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LI B RARY 

OF THL 

U N IVLR5ITY 

OF ILLINOIS 

813 

T6>85b 
V.3 



BOND AND FREE. 



BY 

THE AUTHOR OF "CASTE," 

ETC., ETC. 



" Zwei sind die Wege, auf welchen der Mensch zur Tugend emporstrebt; 
Schliesst sich der eine dir zu, thut sich der andre dir auf. 
Handelnd erringt der Gliickliche sie, der Leidende duldend. 
Wohl ihm, den sein Geschick liebend auf beiden geftlhrt!" 



LN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. HE. 



LONDON: 

HURST AND BLACKETT, PUBLISHERS, 

SUCCESSORS TO HENRY COLBURN, 

13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET. 

1860. 

The right of Translation is reserved. 



V.3 



BOND AND FREE. 



CHAPTER I. 

" His honour rooted in dishonour stood, 
And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true." 

Wilfred could in no way clear himself to 
himself. It is true that, on that fatal morn- 
ing, he had been surprised by the tempta- 
tion of sudden certainty of Felicia's love 
for him — that his passions had then es- 
caped from his control, and a kind of 
frenzy had possessed him ; but he knew 
to how many minor temptations he had 
voluntarily yielded — how many voluntary 
steps had led up to the involuntary climax. 

VOL. III. B 



2 BOND AND FREE. 

He had only become the slave of over- 
mastering passion after repeated and volun- 
tary submission to a resistible tyranny. 

On his hurried homeward journey Wil- 
fred formed the determination, at all costs, 
to break off his engagement with Eleanour : 
not that he had the slightest or most fleet- 
ing hope of winning Felicia — a thousand 
things told him that with her esteem he 
had lost her love ; that he had been her 
idol, and that the fall from the pedestal 
of her high estimation had dashed his 
image in pieces. If the poor child had 
known how many sources of pain he had 
found in her conduct at leave-taking, her 
own pain would have been doubled. Her 
withdrawal from the room polluted by his 
presence (so he interpreted that withdrawal) 
— her involuntary shrinking from him when 
her mother gave him leave to kiss her — 
the calmness with which she had extended 



BOND AND FREE. 3 

her hand — and the calmness of the few 
last words, to speak which had cost her 
such a struggle — everything she had said 
or done was tortured into an expression 
of the indifference of contempt. No ! he 
was moved to the determination of giving 
up Eleanour by no hope of winning Felicia, 
He knew now certainly that he never had 
loved, and never would love, Eleanour Nar- 
penth ; that, however strong had been the 
attraction of her beauty, her accomplish- 
ments, her devotion, and all her nameless 
power of fascination, these things had not 
kindled in him answering love, and never 
could kindle such love ; and he understood 
now, as he had never done before, the 
danger and the wickedness of marriage 
without love. 

On his arrival in London — travel-worn 
and thought-worn as he was — Wilfred went 
directly to Mr. Narpenth's. His arrival was 

B 2 ' 



4 BOND AND FREE. 

unexpected. He noticed nothing, asked no 
questions, but allowed himself to be ushered 
into the drawing-room, unwashed and un- 
rested as he was. 

The room was full of people : its blaze 
of lights and hum of talk at first dazzled 
and bewildered him. His appearance caused 
a momentary lull, which attracted Miss Nar- 
penth's attention just as Wilfred had de- 
scried her. She was seated at the piano 
at the far end of the room — her handsome, 
animated face turned towards a bearded man 
who leant over her chair. 

Wilfred would willingly have retired — he 
did not wish to meet Eleanour thus, in 
public; but Mr. Narpenth's welcoming hand 
detained him and led him towards the 
place where she was. She had risen, and 
her colour had changed : she stood leaning 
on the piano, irresolute how to meet him, 
doubtful how he had taken her last letter, 



BOND AND FREE. 5 

and yet deeply pleased and flattered by 
the way in which he answered it. 

" You come among us like a ghost — we 
thought you still at Heidelberg ! " she said, 
as her hand entered Wilfred's, and pressed 
it in a fervent grasp. 

" Heidelberg ! — pray introduce me to the 
gentleman who has just left my dear and 
lovely Heidelberg ! — my native town." 

As he spoke, the bearded individual who 
had hung over Miss Narpenth's chair turned 
a remarkably frank and pleasant face, lighted 
by a pair of glowing eyes, on Wilfred, 
and immediately strove to engage him in 
conversation. Eleanour stood by for a few 
minutes, then, passing close to Wilfred on 
her way from the room, said : — 

"Escape to the library as soon as you 
can — you are too tired to be here." 

Wilfred gave a sign of assent; the stran- 
ger, noticing the " confidence of eyes," 



b BOND AND FREE. 

paused abruptly in the middle of a sen- 
tence — to look from Eleanour to Wilfred 
inquiringly. During this pause all his en- 
thusiasm for lovely Heidelberg seemed to 
pass off — for when he spoke again, it was 
coldly and absently. Wilfred soon found an 
opportunity of withdrawing from the room. 

Eleanour had ordered tea to be brought 
into the library, and she waited there for 
Wilfred. For the first few moments, while 
the servant was passing in and out, they 
stood opposite each other by the fire, and 
talked of the weather and of Wilfred's 
journey. When they were alone Eleanour 
began to pour out tea, and to overwhelm 
Wilfred by her attentions : she spoke but 
little and did everything in a feverish, 
abrupt way which jarred upon his worn 
nerves painfully. 

Wilfred, little at his ease in her presence, 
presently begged that he might not detain 



BOND AND FREE. 7 

her from her guests, and apologized for his 
sudden and, as it had proved, ill-timed appear- 
ance. She made him no answer of any kind ; 
but, when she had no longer the occupation 
of waiting on him, she suddenly came and 
knelt down before him: folding her white 
and jewelled arms upon his knees, she 
looked up searchingly into his face. 

He could not bear the look or her atti- 
tude. 

" For heaven s sake, rise, Eleanour ! " he 
cried ; then added in a less tragic tone : — 

" You are crushing and spoiling that 
beautiful dress ! " 

" Is it beautiful ? Am I beautiful in 
it?" she asked, without rising or moving 
her eves from his face. 

u You know you are beautiful in it — 
and you also know that it was not put 
on for me." 

Wishing to give a light tone to the con- 



8 BOND AND FREE. 

versation he went on to speak in further 
praise of her dress, and to admire the 
ornaments she wore on her neck and arms, 
and in her hair. She did not heed what 
he said, but kept her position and continued 
to gaze into his face. 

" Do not look at me to-night," he said, 
nervously ; " I have travelled without stop- 
ping; I feel worn out. To-morrow " 

He paused, thinking of what must be 
said to-morrow. Already it began to seem 
to him impossible that he should have the 
courage to say what must then be said, if 
he kept his resolution. 

"To-morrow you will quarrel with me, 
I suppose/' Eleanour spoke with a certain 
air of defiance. 

" Do not let me keep you here/' he 
said again. "I am thoroughly stupefied 
and bewildered to-night, and you look bril- 
liantly lovely. The sight of you dazzles my 



BOND AND FREE. V 

tired eyes. Indeed, you must rise, Elea- 
nour — I cannot bear to see you there, on 
your knees before me." 

She let him lift her up : then she 
walked to the fire, leant her head against 
the marble mantel-piece, and burst into 
tears — stormy passionate tears which startled 
and annoyed him. When he approached and 
spoke to her she turned, threw herself into 
his arms, and hid her face upon his shoulder. 

"You are angry with me about that 
letter, and so you will kill me by cold- 
ness, " she said, when she was calm enough 
to speak. "Just now I was longing to 
ask you whether you still love me ; but I 
do not ask it — I dare not ask it — your 
' no ' would crush me. I thought that 
perhaps you had lost some of your power 
over me — that I might learn to give you 
up, if you did not love me — but I 
cannot — I cannot ! I love you beyond my 



10 BOND AND FREE. 

life or my pride. I cannot give you 
up — I cannot, and I will not — not even if 
you ask me — I cannot and I will not be- 
lieve that you do not love me." 

Wilfred spoke vaguely soothing words, 
and felt as if his weak heart must break 
or his weak will yield. " Oh, for rest, 
even for the rest of death ! " was the cry of 
his soul while he held that beautiful wo- 
man in his arms. 

Looking up into his face, Eleanour said 
presently : — 

"You say I was not dressed for you 
to-night; that is true — I was trying if I 
could be pleased to please another than 
you. You come ; and I feel at once that 
I do not care for the praise and admira- 
tion of all the world if you do not 
love me." 

Eleanour did not let Wilfred start apart 
from her when the door was opened ; Mr. 



BOND AND FREE. 11 

Narpenth entering, found her resting in 
Wilfred's arms ; his first words were : — 

" So ! you have made it up, children. 
Eleanour has been very angry and very 
jealous, Wilfred." 

" Say nothing about that now, papa," Elea- 
nour begged. Soon after she left them — 
to compose her face, shake out her tumbled 
skirts, and then return to the drawing-room. 

" Have you any recent news of Ireton ? " 
Wilfred asked, his thoughts turning to what 
began to seem the only chance of respite — 
the chance of Mr. Ireton's death. 

"He has alternately sunk and rallied 
many times : he may live on thus for 
years. Suspense, and the petty persecu- 
tions she is subject to from her brother, 
wear Eleanour's spirits cruelly ; I have 
resolved to let you fix your wedding-day 
between you — as early a day as you both 
choose. Eleanour loves you devotedly; she 



1 2 BOND AND FREE. 

would never relinquish you — no end is to 
be served by waiting — I wish to see her 
happy. And so " 

Wilfred interrupted : — 

"May I talk with you in the morning? 
I have no head for anything now." 

" Yes, yes — you sleep here of course. 
Your room is ready. I won't keep you 
up — you don't look as robust as I could 
wish, but that is only owing to the fatigue 
of your hurried journey, I hope." 

With a cordial "Good night" Wilfred 
was dismissed to his luxurious chamber. 

" Retreat is impossible," he thought, as 
he tossed on his bed and sought sleep 
vainly. He felt indeed that he was weak, 
and that to be weak is to be miserable. 
His soul was full of the bitterest self- 
contempt, but to release himself from his 
bonds seemed a thing beyond his power. 
He longed, with fevered intensity of long- 



BOND AND FREE. 13 

ing, to have the tangled and mysterious 
skein of his life unravelled for him — to 
feel the cool, calming hand of death laid 
on his brow and breast. 

He made himself think of Eleanour — 
of her beauty as she had knelt before 
him, her white arms and shoulders bare, 
and her splendid eyes searching his face; 
he thought, too, of her love which showed 
itself with such passionate, impetuous aban- 
donment ; overwhelming her pride, prov- 
ing itself so grandly disinterested. Surely 
such love might in time kindle answering 
love. Such love ! — true it was not such a 
pure and pale, mild and yet strong, flame 
as had been his ideal of woman's love ; but 
it was such love as God had made it this 
woman's nature to feel — and how should he 
dare put his ideal higher than God's real? 

He thought of Eleanour as at that very 
hour waking, perhaps weeping, in some near 



14 BOND AND FREE. 

chamber ; mourning over his ungenerous cold- 
ness, and over the resistless might of her 
own passion — and his thoughts of her grew 
warm and tender. She not being by — to 
make him vividly conscious of the uncon- 
geniality of their natures — he again began 
to believe it impossible but that he should 
learn to love so beautiful and so devoted 
a woman. 

"I must marry her — and I must make 
my life one endeavour to reward her for 
her generous love." 

There was a superficial nobility, a show 
of self-sacrifice, about this resolve that 
soothed Wilfred ; at last, just as it grew 
light, he fell asleep. 

Wilfred slept late ; when he went down 
Mr. Narpenth had left the house. Elea- 
nour, who dreaded this interview, looked 
so pale and sad, so almost meek, that his 
heart smote him. He told her of what 



BOND AND FREE. 15 

her father had said to him ; and — being 
feverishly anxious to escape from the pos- 
sibility of further wavering — he pleaded 
with lover-like eloquence that she would 
marry him soon. After his marriage he 
hoped that the calm of irrevocability would 
settle on his life; and calm was the great 
good for which he now longed. 

His warmth and eloquence made Elea- 
nour kindle — her large eyes shone with 
love, and a glow of pleasure fixed itself 
on her cheek. 

"I promise you, Wilfred," she said, at 
the close of a long morning spent together, 
"that I will never be jealous of your 
work, as a weaker woman might be. I 
shall not let you settle down to slothful 
ease — I shall triumph in your fame! Oh! 
Wilfred, we will lead a glorious life ! " 

She looked grandly beautiful as she 
spoke. Wilfred, leaning his head on his 



16 BOND AND FREE. 

hand, watched her admiringly — called her 
his Sybil, and satisfied her proud heart with 
praise. 

" He does love me," she thought. 
" What if, while he was away from me, 
he had a pale, passing passion for that 
Felicia ? I can forgive him. Have I not 
loved before? — and yet I love him deeply 
and desperately — " 

Just then a servant announced " Mr. 
Edler;" and that bearded native of Heidel- 
berg, and admirer of Miss Narpenth, en- 
tered. 

Eleanour's reception of her visitor was 
cold, almost repelling, but he was not to 
be disconcerted thereby. 

"You asked me to come in and look 
at your last picture," he said to her, after 
he had sat chatting some time. Turning 
to Wilfred, he added : — 

" Miss Narpenth was one of my first 



BOND AND FREE. 1 7 

pupils. I have given her lessons — both 
abroad and after I came to England — 
and I am proud of my pupil." 

He rose and led the way to the studio. 
Eleanour followed him, but Wilfred did not. 

Mr. Edler looked at everything and criti- 
cized everything — not paying any heed to 
Eleanour' s ungracious manner, which plainly 
expressed her desire that he should be gone. 

"Rather a successful likeness," he said, 
taking up a canvas that had been turned 
towards the wall. " But, while you have 
hardly done justice to the delicate refine- 
ment of detail in the features, you have 
given a fire and force to the expression 
that are wholly wanting in the original. 
I am sure you never saw so determined a 
look about that mouth, or such concen- 
tration of purpose in those eyes." 

" This is not the picture for which I 
desired your criticism," Eleanour said, try- 

vol. in. C 



18 BOND AND FREE. 

ing to take the portrait from his hand; 
but he retained it, and imprisoned her 
fingers, while he gazed into her eyes — not 
boldly, but very fixedly and resolutely, as 
if reading his fate in them. She coloured 
deeply, and, turning her head away, looked 
uneasily towards the room in which she had 
left Wilfred. 

" Is it so ? " he asked. " Is the past 
so completely forgotten? Has such a gulph 
opened between us ? " 

" It was a very foolish past — a girl and 
boy's dream," Eleanour answered, hurriedly. 
" Never mind the pictures — let us go back 
to the drawing-room. " 

"My share of the dream has been mo- 
tive strong enough to make me work my 
way up in life with clenched teeth and 
clenched hands, and — " 

" I cannot hear this, Mr. Edler. I am 
sorry, very sorry — " 



BOND AND FREE. 19 

" Am I to give up the hope that I 
have held so long — utterly — at once ? " 

He spoke quietly, but his lips whitened 
and his eyes flamed. 

" In a few months I shall marry Mr. 
Mason." 

" Thank you for that much of frank- 
ness. You may continue to rely upon my 
discreet silence concerning the past. For 
your future, I wish you all happiness. I 
have a feeling that we do not part for 
ever to-day. Time will show. I shall 
never love any other woman, even if I 
meet with one more worthy of constant 
love." 

She could not tell if he were most 
hurt or angry, grieved or contemptuous. 
She could not even tell to what extent 
he had been serious. He was gone ; and, 
holding Wilfred's portrait in her hand, she 
went back into a dream of the past — of 

c2 



20 BOND AND FREE. 

the past when she had loved Hermann 
von Edler, a poor Art student — from which 
dream she roused herself with a sigh. 

" And so he has remembered me all 
these years, it seems ! " she said to herself, 
as she went slowly back to the room where 
she had left Wilfred. " And a little of 
the love I lavish upon Wilfred, and might 
almost as well lavish upon his effigy in 
marble, would bring Hermann to my feet — 
ready to die there with rapture. I cannot 
help it — I cannot help it ! It is my fate 
and not my fault." 



21 



CHAPTER II. 

" The soul is lapped in a false peace serene ; 
Fate, with the stern face of an angry friend, 
Heading a band of troubles, steps between." 

On a perfectly fair summer evening, 
having perfect promise of a perfect mor- 
row, Eleanour and Wilfred were together — 
on the hill behind the cottage where 
Wilfred had so long lodged. At the 
little church of Thorndon they were to 
be married in three days. 

Eleanour sat on the trunk of a felled 
tree, leaning back against a spreading 
oak, and Wilfred lay at her feet. He 



22 BOND AND FREE. 

had been thinking and speaking of his 
past life — always a lonely, often a mise- 
rable life ; whether miserable or not, 
always an unanchored, unsatisfied, unsatis- 
factory life. He had been speaking also 
of the persistent Fate which had brought 
his life and Eleanour's together — of their 
meeting on the wild Welsh shore, on 
the Rhine boat, and on the white road 
near the quiet little English village ; and 
as he thought and spoke, he gazed upon 
his beautiful betrothed, and felt only gra- 
titude for her love, tender affection for 
herself, and an earnest determination to do 
what in him lay to make her happy. 
Eleanour was beautiful to-night, content 
dwelt on her mouth, happiness shone 
from her eyes, and her brow was calm 
and serene : the hand and arm resting on 
Wilfred's shoulder were a marvel of blue- 
veined, creamy whiteness, of satin smooth 



BOND AND FREE. 23 

softness ; his lips were often pressed upon 
that hand and arm. 

By-and-by Wilfred took out his note- 
book, the same in which he had often 
written at Heidelberg ; he scribbled down 
some verses — read them to Eleanour — 
and, as he listened to her fond praise, 
let the book fall by his side, without 
heeding that it did so. 

" I wish I had my colour-box and 
sketch-book, that I, too, might make a 
tiny sketch by which to recall this happy 
evening ! " Eleanour said. 

" Let me fetch them — tell me where to 
find them." 

" I will not have you go — it was 
only a passing whim. If I had my things 
I should not use them — I am too idly 
happy." 

" But I should like you to make just 
a small sketch to-night — of the common, 



24 BOND AND FREE. 

the low purple hills, and the sky. Where 
are your box and your book ? " 

" In my room, I believe — Mary will 
find them ; but I do not want you to 
go for them, and I do not think I shall 
let you go." 

She bent over him, imprisoned him 
with her arms, and kissed him. For a 
few moments he allowed himself to be 
her prisoner. The drowsy hum of summer 
insects, the languid whisper of the wind 
among the trees, the subdued glory that 
was over everything, combined to steep 
his soul in a soft, luxurious dreaminess, 
from which he roused himself with effort. 

The church clock struck eight. 

" Kelease me, darling," he said. " I 
really want a sketch made to-night, ever 
so slight a one — if I do not get your 
colours now, it will be too dark." 

He ran down the hill, pausing and turning 



BOND AND FREE. 25 

once to say — " You are sure you do not mind 
remaining there alone — I will be very quick." 

He was soon out of sight of Eleanour's 
worshipping eyes. 

It was a long time before the maid 
could find her mistress's sketch-book and 
colours, such things not being in her de- 
partment. When at last she gave them 
to Wilfred he hastened back to where he 
had left Eleanour, and found her gone. 

He searched for her through the small 
wood ; calling her again and again ; then, 
full of vague alarm, he rushed back to 
the house. 

Mr. Narpenth was alone in the drawing- 
room. 

" Where is Eleanour ? " Wilfred asked 
eagerly. 

" What have you done to her ? is the 
question. Have you been quarrelling at 
the eleventh hour?" 



26 BOND AND FREE. 

"You have seen her? She is safe in 
the house, then ? " 

" 1 met her in the garden a few mo- 
ments after I saw you rush off towards 
the hill. She came out of the shrubbery. 
I told her you had just gone to rejoin 
her. She did not open her lips, but en- 
tered the house and went to her own room. ,, 

" Thank God she is safe ! But it is 
very strange that she should not have 
waited." 

" Have you had no quarrel, then ? " 

"None whatever." 

" That something has happened I am 
sure, by Eleanour's face." 

" She must be ill. May I go to her 
door and speak to her ? " 

"You had better." 

Wilfred bounded up the stairs and knocked 
at the closed door. He called to Eleanour 
in a voice of anxious entreaty. He received 



BOND AND FREE. 27 

no answer, and heard no sound. Trying 
the door, he found it locked. 

" Speak to me, Eleanour — just a word — 
just to say that you are not ill — only 
speak to me ! " 

Still he did not receive the slightest 
answer, or hear the slightest sound. He 
returned to Mr. Narpenth to beg that the 
door might be forced open ; he felt sure 
that Eleanour must have been seized with 
sudden illness — what else could have hap- 
pened ? The words Mr. Narpenth greeted 
him with, however, stopped those that were 
upon his own lips. 

" See here ! " — pointing to the first para- 
graph of the Times, which lay open on the 
table before him — " Ireton is dead ! — died 
yesterday — suddenly ! " 

Wilfred turned deathly pale; spider-like 
and icy-cold spirit fingers seemed to move 
among the roots of his hair. 



28 BOND AND FREE. 

"Be composed, and let us think what is 
to be done," Mr. Narpenth said. " Your mar- 
riage may, perhaps, have to be postponed for 
a few days ; a change of name will make 
more work for the lawyers. The first thing to 
be done is for you to open the packet you 
possess. Where is it ? Can it be opened at 
once ? I suppose you keep it about you." 

" The packet ? — my mother's letter ? It 

is in the keeping of — of a friend, who is 

abroad. I must take a long journey to 

reclaim it." 

" That is vexatious — it will lengthen the 

delay and suspense." 

" I had better start to-night." 

" Certainly." 

" But I must see Eleanour first." 

" Of course. I will order the carriage 
to take you to town — meanwhile you can 
see Eleanour." 

" I will at least attempt to do so." 



BOND AND FREE. 29 

Again Wilfred stood before the closed 
door, his heart beating violently. This time 
he heard a heavy pacing to and fro. When 
he spoke there was a pause. He hurriedly 
explained that he was about to start on a 
journey — explained the nature of his errand, 
and entreated Eleanour to let him see her first. 

Just as — his patience exhausted — he was 
about to turn from the obdurate door, it 
opened, and Eleanour stood before him. Her 
appearance shocked him : he started back 
from her — the face that had been so beau- 
tiful and so happy a face a few hours be- 
fore had no beauty now — no beauty of 
form, colour, or expression ; it was distorted 
by passion, disfigured by rage and hate: the 
eyes, swollen and inflamed as they were, 
would alone have marred the loveliness of 
the most perfect face. 

Before Wilfred could recover from the 
shock her appearance gave him sufficiently 



30 BOND AND FREE. 

to address her Eleanour spoke — in a harsh, 
imperious voice that seemed as strange to 
him as her altered face. 

"You are going to Heidelberg?" 

" Yes." 

" Yes ; and the letter which ' is in a 
friend's keeping'? is that friend a girl — 
Felicia Southern?" 

"Yes." 

"Yes/' she echoed mockingly, with an 
evil sneer on her lips. For a moment her 
eyes flamed furiously into his ; then she drew 
back, and closed the door upon him. So 
they parted. 

Wilfred lingered a few moments; when he 
turned away, he felt utterly confused : it 
seemed to him impossible that what had 
just passed should be real — he felt that 
he must be wandering through the mazes 
of a bad dream ; but he could not wake ! 
When day dawned he was nearing the coast. 



31 



CHAPTER III. 

" In that so heavenly mild and pure fair face, 
Pity hath love's, and love hath pity's grace : 
Which is the sweeter shining in that place — 
Or where one ends, and where begins the other, 
No human eyes may, surely, ere discover." 

Heidelberg, in its full summer glory, was 
thronged by tourists and pleasure-seekers. 
Wilfred's face of pale desperation was in 
strong contrast with the gay and sun- 
burned faces of the people he met ; it 
drew many eyes upon him as he crossed 
the square, on his way to the small house 
in the terraced garden. 

Occupied by one intense curiosity, one 



32 BOND AND FREE. 

absorbing desire, it was not till he had 
turned from the hot and dusty road into 
the green and shady garden — not till, the 
ladies being out, he sat alone in the vine- 
screened parlour, which had been the scene 
of so many happy hours, waiting for their 
return — that the full idea of the pain and 
embarrassment this sudden meeting would 
cause presented himself to him. 

He found that it would not do to think, 
and he strove to turn his attention outward 
— observing how the vine had grown over 
the window without, and how the ivy within 
had made new shoots — so that the sun 
could hardly penetrate the leafy screen. 

The wind stirred the snowy curtains ; 
the room was dim and cool — to Wilfred's 
fevered blood it struck cold ; now and 
again he shivered. A vase of white 
roses stood on Felicia's table, another near 
Mrs. Southern's arm-chair ; some work and 



BOND AND FREE. 33 

a few books lay about the scrupulously 
neat room ; everything seemed to speak to 
him of Felicia. He leant his brow on the 
folded arms which rested on her little 
table, and listened to the whirling in his 
brain, and the irregular pulsation of his 
heart while he waited. 

Evening fell ; the dimness of the room 
had increased to duskness when, at last, 
Felicia and her mother passed the window. 

Mrs. Southern came first — walking and 
talking briskly. Felicia's step was slow 
and, Wilfred fancied, weary. At the house- 
door Mrs. Southern paused, so that Felicia 
entered the room first ; she came in with 
a thoughtful brow, and with downcast eyes 
that saw nothing. 

Wilfred spoke abruptly, before she had 
seen him. 

" The letter — my mother's letter ; 

VOL. in. D 



34 BOND AND FREE. 

nothing else could have brought me. I 
want the letter." 

" Then like a ghost she lifted up her face, 
And like a ghost without the power to speak." 

Mrs. Southern followed almost imme- 
diately upon her daughter, and to her 
Wilfred explained his errand. 

A few moments afterwards Felicia stood 
before him, offering him the long-kept 
packet. As he took it, he met the sweet 
pity of her eyes : recalling her face, as it 
looked then, when he had left it far 
behind, he knew that it was paler and 
thinner than he had been used to see it — 
but he also knew that it was wonderfully 
clear and untroubled. 

" We will leave you," Mrs. Southern 
said, passing her arm round Felicia, as 
Wilfred broke the seal. 

" No ; lend me your eyes ; read for me, 
I cannot read it," he cried. 



BOND AND FREE. 35 

There was not light enough for Mrs. 
Southern. Felicia took the letter, held it 
close to the window, and read : — 

11 When you have opened this, go 
quickly to your guardian's house, if you 
should at that time be absent from it. 
There you will hear of your mother. If 
she is dead — or must still, for your good, 
be dead to you — Martha Smith shall then 
have power to tell you all that you may 
know about her. If she is alive and 
free to claim her son, she herself will 
meet you there. I am growing strong, 
Wilfred, in the hcpe of some day meet- 
ing my son. I shall live to be old, yet 
your guardian believes that I am dying — 
will believe that I am dead. God for- 
give me this one more deceit — this for your 
sake, my heart's darling, because I will 
not be a link between you and shame. 
God grant me strength to persevere and so 

d2 



36 BOND AND FREE. 

save you from the knowledge of your father." 

The letter was dated — a date of five- 
and- twenty years ago. 

" Read it again ! " Wilfred twice en- 
treated. 

With haggard eyes, he watched Felicia 
as she read : quiet tears streamed down 
her white face, and the last daylight 
seemed to linger upon it. 

" Your poor, poor mother ! " the girl 
breathed out softly. 

" My mother ! " 

" Will you not thank God that she lives 
to have the joy of seeing her son ? I 
feel that she does live. Will you not thank 
God that you have a mother ? " 

" My mother lives — I have a mother ! " 

Wilfred appeared as if stunned. He did 
not remove his eyes from Felicia's agitated 
face ; he seemed only capable of echoing 
her words. 



BOND AND FREE. 37 

" Go away, dear child — go away for a 
little while," Mrs. Southern said. 

She led her daughter from the room, and 
then she took a seat close to Wilfred; she 
laid her hand on his, spoke to him, and 
strove, as tenderly and as sedulously as if 
he had been her son, to rouse and soothe 
him. After a time he said : — 

"I will thank God for infinite goodness, 
if my mother still lives. If she still lives, 
I will find her." 

His face lit up with inexpressible rap- 
ture, and he rose, adding, 

" I have no time to lose. God reward 
you for your sympathy, and make me less 
unworthy of it, and of a mother's love." 

"Can you take no rest — no refreshment?" 

"I shall not rest, nor eat, till I have 
found her. I will find her : even if she 
still tries to hide herself, I will find her. 
I will joyfully take upon myself what- 



38 BOND AND FREE. 

ever grief and shame she has borne alone 
all these long years." 

He paused at the door, and looked 
round the room wistfully — but he did not 
see Felicia again. 

Late into the night the mother and 
daughter talked of Wilfred, and of Wilfred's 
mother. 

"I do not know what to hope/' Mrs. 
Southern said. "It may be that it would 
be better for him to find that she is dead. 
One cannot tell what her sins may have 
been ; one can hardly believe that she is 
a good woman." 

"Think how unselfishly she -must have 
loved her child, though, mamma — to have 
given him up for what she thought his good, 
and to have kept her secret for his sake all 
these lonely years. I do hope she lives, 
that she may have some happy years to 
make up for all." 



BOND AND FREE. 39 

"Wilfred will now, perhaps, have to 
choose between his mother and his bride. 
His mother may be such a woman as it 
would be too great a trial for any girl to 
accept as a constant companion.''" 

a Let us hope the best, mamma. It 
seems to me that there must be something 
very noble about Wilfred's mother, or she 
could not have acted as she has done. I 
suppose it was wrong of her, because it 
was rot natural, to give up her child; but 
surer/- it was grandly unselfish." 

" f her motives were all good and pure, 
it wis. Any way, she must have suffered 
crudly, poor thing ! We will, as you say, 
mj daughter, hope the best." 

" I have a strangely strong feeling that 
al will end happily." 

" Good child ! may you be a true prophet." 



40 



CHAPTER IV. 

"While he lived, I feared his scorn: 
He is cold — I creep forlorn 
To his feet. I weep and mourn, 
Would he could rise and would strike me ddd! 
Pityful God ! what words have I said ! 
O wipe them out with the tears I shed." 



Again, once again, and after so many ysars, 
Wilfred stood before his guardian's buse 
— stood waiting to be let in at the (lice 
familiar door. He had reached it just at dawi, 
the fiery dawn of a wild and windy da?. 
The rosy glare struck against black blarfe 
windows, and found no entrance. The hous* 
that had always been a dead house was 
now a house of death; but it could not 



BOND AND FREE. 41 

well look more gloomy than it had always 
been wont to look since Wilfred remem- 
bered it. 

The door was opened to him by Mrs, 
Smith. 

" Is she here ? — my mother ? " was his 
question. 

"Yes." She added, beneath her breath. 
"I shouldn't have known you. I suppose, 
though, it is Mr. Wilfred." 

The door closed, shutting out light and 
air — shutting Wilfred within the dusky, 
mouldy-smelling house. Just then a cry 
rang through the dead silence ; it was not 
loud, yet it seemed to pierce him through 
both heart and brain. 

As the cry rang out there came down 
the stairs a woman, the whiteness of whose 
face was conspicuous in that dusky twi- 
light ; she fell heavily into Wilfred's arms, 
instinctively held out towards her, clasping 



42 BOND AND FREE. 

hers round him with a clasp like that of 
one dying. After her cry and the words, 
" my son ! my son ! " she did not speak, 
and her arms fell from round him. 

" Poor worn-out thing ! Likely enough 
she has swooned. She has watched for 
you so long, and had most given you 
up. Can you carry her, Mr. Wilfred, just 
in here ? " 

Mrs. Smith opened the door of the 
dining-room as she spoke, and proceeded 
to unclose the shutters ; but the fasten- 
ings were rusty, and she fumbled over 
them some time. As Wilfred groped his 
way into the dark room, carrying his 
mother, its chilly, sepulchral atmosphere 
struck to his heart. The obstinate fasten- 
ings at last giving way, light streamed in 
and fell on the face of Mrs. Lister. With 
a cry for air, Wilfred sank half-fainting 
upon the ground beside the couch on 



BOND AND FREE. 43 

which he had deposited his burden. The 
cool morning-wind, blowing in keenly and 
kindly, soon restored him. 

* # # # * 

The funeral was fixed to take place 
upon that day. A few hours after their 
meeting the mother and son went together 
to the room where the dead man lay. 

Wilfred saw his mother bow down and 
press her lips upon the dead hand, mur- 
muring, " for the last time." Then she 
knelt beside the coffin, hiding her face 
from him and from the light. He saw how 
she was shaken by convulsive sobs. Stand- 
ing by in reverent silence, he marvelled 
greatly, thinking " she loved this man, 
then." When she rose, he drew her arm 
through his, and led her away ; but the 
lingering look she cast upon the face of 
the stern dead, the deep remorse expressed 
by the few words she dropped, made a 



44 BOND AND FREE. 

deep and painful impression upon her son. 

When the dead man had been lain in 
the ground, and all the duties of the day 
fulfilled, Wilfred and his mother sat to- 
gether in the dull dining-room. It was 
not a house and this was not a time in 
which that woman's heart could feel the 
full measure of any joy ; but as she met 
the concentration of unutterable tenderness 
which shone from her son's eyes, her heart 
literally leapt with happiness. 

a Do not love me yet — do not call me 
mother yet," she said, checking her joy 
in awe of its fullness. " You must hear 
much first. Before you decide to give your 
erring mother an honourable place in your 
heart you must be her judge." 

He kissed her hand, and held it pressed 
against his cheek. 

" For myself, I do not want to know 
anything, except that you are the mother 



BOND AND FREE. 45 

who has suffered so much, and so long, 
for my sake — and from whom, except for 
a few hours, I never mean to part." 

" i Never mean to part ! ' and Eleanour — " 

" I have wronged her cruelly — she must 
judge me. Till I have seen her again, I 
can tell you nothing, except that we — you 
and I — will not part." 

"You shall not make this sacrifice for 
me ; if you love her, I will not stand 
between you." 

"Alas ! it is not in my power to 
make any sacrifice. I have been very 
weak and very wicked. Eleanour, when 
she knows all, will despise me and give 
me up. I shall be frank, and tell her 
all, doing her a very tardy justice. By 
this time she would have been my wife 
— my poor, wronged Eleanour ! " 

" I wonder has she been frank with 
you?" 



46 BOND AND FREE. 

"She has shown devotion and disinter- 
ested passion. I have been treacherous, 
an d — I cannot bear to think of my weak 
wickedness. I shall have no rest till I 
have ended all. Dear mother, tell me 
quickly just such bare facts as I ought 
to tell Mr. Narpenth: my father's name 
— his — his crime. Is he still alive?" 
All joy died out of the mother's face. 
"No — no, he is not alive, or you would 
not have found me here," she answered. 
"His name — and yours, alas, my poor, poor 
boy — was well enough known five-and- 
twenty years ago. But he is dead — no 
one can force it on us now. Tell Mr. 
Narpenth that you are Verbane's son. 
You need say no more. The son of a man 
who betrayed his friend's trust, who was 
a thief, a forger, and, in intent, a mur- 
derer. Do not shrink from me — indeed 
he is dead, or I would never have claimed 



BOND AND FREE. 47 

you. He died three years ago, but it 
was only five days ago that I got certain 
tidings of his death. You shall see the 
letter; there is no room for doubt. Oh, 
yes ! Mr. Narpenth knows your father's 
name ; once, when I was by, speaking of 
execrable criminals he described the career 
of your father and my husband." 

Suddenly the poor woman fell on her 
knees, raised her clasped hands, and 
cried : — 

"Oh, God! visit not my sins, and the 
sins of his father, on this, my innocent 
son. Turn not his heart against his 
mother. Be pityful to him, and strengthen 
him to bear his burden." 

"Mother, be calm, or I dare not leave 
you," Wilfred said, as he raised her. "I 
solemnly declare that I will love, cherish, 
and reverence you always. I solemnly 
declare that this knowledge is to me as 



48 BOND AND FREE. 

nothing — that the joy of finding a mother 
far outweighs everything else ; and that, 
in my eyes, and, I believe, in God's 
also, the love you have borne me, and 
the patience with which you have suffered 
for me, blot out any sin or transgression 
of yours. You shall not make me your 
judge, mother ; I am content and proud 
to be your son." 



49 



CHAPTER V. 

** Was dahin ist und vergangen, 
Kami's die Liebe seyn ? 
Hirer Flamme Himmels-gluth 
Stirbt sie, wie ein irdisch Gut ? " 

The dewy garden was cool and peaceful, 
Thorndon House, all open-windowed, turned 
a sunny, every-day face towards Wilfred, 
as he approached it early in the morning. 
Mr. Narpenth, taking his usual before- 
breakfast stroll, suddenly came into con- 
tact with a man so travel-soiled, so hollow- 
cheeked, and feverish-eyed, that in him 
he did not immediately recognize Wilfred. 

VOL. HI. E 



50 BOND AND FREE. 

When he did recognize him, he greeted 
him in a confused manner, and began to 
hurry him towards the house, saying : — 

" See Eleanour, Mason — see Eleanour ! 
No explanations to me — see Eleanour, 
Mason, see Eleanour ! " 

" Not l Mason ' — Yerbane is, I find, my 
name — and I mean to bear it." 

Wilfred watched the effect of these words, 
expecting some sudden recoil from him who 
claimed this name. 

" Yerbane," echoed Mr. Narpenth; " I have 
some associations with the name — at pre- 
sent, I cannot recall when, or where, or 
how, I have heard it ; but see Eleanour, 
my good fellow, see Eleanour ; I do not 
pretend to understand her, but I think 
you will find that we have no longer any 
more right to your secret than has all the 
rest of the world. I have had no expla- 
nation with Eleanour — she will not have 



BOND AND FREE. 51 

your name mentioned; what the cause of 
this rapid change is — whether she has just 
cause for anger — I do not know. I am 
very sorry for you. I wish you well . 
through the meeting — I wish you well in 
every way. I shall always remember that 
you have a claim on me — that you saved 
my girl's life — and, whatever happens, I 
shall wish you, too, to remember this." 

He grasped Wilfred's hand, and pushed 
him within the breakfast-room door. Wil- 
fred heard him call his daughter, and then 
leave the house again. 

He had to wait — to wait cruelly long; 
and he was already faint and weary. Mr. 
Narpenth's words had, for the first time, 
recalled to him the exact nature of his 
parting with Eleanour. At last she came 
into the room. Her face was sullen and 
resentful — in her hand she carried a small 
book. 

E 2 



52 BOND AND FREE. 

She spoke first, with cold abruptness. 

" Of course, I know your errand," she 
said ; " of course, you remember how we 
parted ; remembering that, you will un- 
derstand my saying, that I have no inte- 
rest in any revelations you may have come 
here to make. I hasten to say this, be- 
cause you shall not have it in your power 
to say that anything external to yourself 
made me give you up — that I shrank from 
sharing your fortune when it was clouded 
over, or refused to take a name to which 
disgrace was attached. Neither — if good 
fortune has fallen to you and you are come 
to tell me that, no longer needing my 
wealth, you mean to share your prosperity 
with the girl you love — shall you have 
power to insult me by renouncing me. Ke- 
member that, before you have spoken, I say, 
I give you up and never wish to see 
your false face again ! " 



BOND AND FREE. 53 

" If you thank Heaven for the inter- 
position which hinders your now being my 
wife, you do well — but ." 

" Most fervently do I thank Heaven for the 
interposition — which is not what you think." 

" You have cause for gratitude. It would 
have been no enviable lot to have linked 
your life with that of a man doomed to 
bear a dishonoured name. A man, too, 
whom you have so readily learnt to hate. 
I do not understand what has changed 
your feelings, and I overlook the studied 
insult you have cast upon me. You are 
angry — I accept that anger as my due, 
though in some ways you do me less than 
justice. Knowing what I now know, my 
name and the character of my father " 

"Stop!" she interrupted, imperiously; "I 
swear that if you could now say {and if I 
could believe your words) i Eleanour, I love 
you, and of all women desire you only as 



54 BOND AND FREE. 

my wife,' — if you could say this, and I 
could believe this, I would to-day become 
your wife. You cannot say this. You have 
used me wickedly and deceitfully — you have 
let me throw myself at your feet and into 
your arms, while your heart, if it beat at 
all, beat for another woman. For what mo- 
tive you have done this, you only know. 
My blood burns when I think of the love 
I have wasted on you — of the passion I 
have felt for you. I feel that passion 
still — changed to hate. It is because you 
are nothing I believed you to be that I 
give you up — that I hate you and despise 
you. Yes, sir, hate you. You have humili- 
ated me cruelly — you have trampled upon 
me — you have set me up as a foil to a 
meek rival — you have coldly and devilishly 

played with my heart — you " 

Her passionate voice broke down ; she 
flung herself upon a couch and wept 



BOND AND FREE. 55 

stormily. He stood by her, waiting till 
there was a chance of being heard. 

"You have said little that I did not 
deserve, Eleanour," he began at last. "I 
came here to-day determined to make a 
full confession to you, and to throw myself 
upon your mercy. You seem to know 
more than all my guilt. From what 
source you have gained your knowledge — 
who has borne witness against me, I can- 
not guess — I — " 

"You have borne witness against your- 
self/' she cried. "Do you not recognize 
this? Do you not remember what is 
written in it ? " 

Her eyes flashing through tears, she 
held up the book which he had lost on 
the hill and had not missed, and shook 
a folded paper from it. 

In a moment now he understood it all. 
That little book contained both food for 



56 BOND AND FREE. 

the jealousy of a jealous woman, and for 
the indignation of a just one. Many- 
poems in it, passionate in Felicia's praise, 
had been scribbled down on feverish wake- 
ful nights at Heidelberg ; never having 
been looked at by that daylight which 
they could so ill bear, they had since, till 
this moment, been completely forgotten. 

" You have read the contents of this 
book?" Wilfred asked. 

"Every word. Looking into it that 
evening on the hill, I soon found I had 
read too much, or not enough. I took 
it to my room and read more. Your 
false heart lay bare before me. I had 
indeed done you less than justice when I 
thought you cold." 

Wilfred stood silent and abashed, while 
Eleanour scorned him with eye and tongue. 
The only mitigation of his guilt that he 
could have pleaded — her having bestowed 



BOND AND FREE. 57 

her love on him unsought — it would have 
been an insult to her, and a farther injury, 
to plead. So he stood a silent mark for 
her scorn. But her tone changed sud- 
denly to one of anguish as she said : — 

"Wilfred ! you have made the whole 
world an evil world for me. You have 
poisoned my whole life — you have de- 
prived me of faith in the truth and 
honour of man. How I shall endure to 
live I do not know ! Would you had 
let me die on that Welsh shore long ago. 
Oh! Wilfred, why, why did you deceive me 
— me who loved you so ? " 

" Be merciful, Eleanour ! Each word of 
yours goes to my heart. Be merciful! I 
attempt no justification — God knows I have 
sinned against you ! It is no defence to 
say that I was more weak than wicked in 
my sin. But he merciful ! " 

" Heaven only knows how I have loved 



58 BOND AND FREE. 

you ! — you who loved another. We must 
never meet again. Go now, and remember 
we must never meet again." 

" I shall pray for your happiness, Elea- 
nour. I would, for your sake and mine, 
that you could let me carry away some 
assurance of your forgiveness. It is true, 
that I have never loved you with the 
one love, Eleanour ; but I did not know 
that surely till the last few months. If 
I had married you, it would have been 
the study of my life to make you happy 
— to reward you for your generous, de- 
voted love." 

"Stop ! Say no more — I cannot bear 
your voice ! Go quickly. I do not want 
to have my anger wiped out ! I do not 
want to feel that you have been little more 
wrong than I ! " She had seized his arm 
with both her hands as she bade him leave 



BOND AND FREE. 59 

her. Gazing into his face, the thought 
crossed her — 

" He will not live to be Felicia's. He 
is dying ! " 

" I do forgive you," she said aloud. " The 
blame has not been all yours." 

" God reward you for those words of 
forgiveness, Eleanour." 

Suddenly, stormily she closed him in her 
arms, drew his head down to a level with 
her own, and pressed her lips to his again 
and again. 

"I did love you!" she cried; "and I 
shall never, never, see you again ! God 
pity me, for I think I love you still ! " 

Those last words of hers were barely 
audible. As Wilfred staggered from the 
house Eleanour rushed to her own room. 



60 



CHAPTER VI. 

"Wer harrte liebend bei mir aus? 
Wer steht mir trostend noch zur Seite?" 

The mother took her weary son home — to 
a cottage near Tyngelt, a small town in 
a mining district, not far from the coast. 
This cottage had been her own retreat 
since she left Mr. Narpenth's. Up and 
down a natural terrace near the top of 
one of the swelling green hills which rose 
behind the cottage Wilfred paced one serene 
September afternoon. He had been ill, and 
was still weak, with that delicious weakness 
of convalescence which is as a sense of new 
birth, giving a charm of exquisite freshness 



BOND AND FREE. 61 

to all pleasures both of soul and sense. 
The terrace up and down which he paced — 
often pausing to gaze out seawards — over- 
looked a small bay, in which emerald-green 
and crystal-clear water was for ever fretting 
itself into foaminess among black and jagged 
rocks. The little bay was one of a chain 
of similar bays, and Wilfred from his eleva- 
tion could see the deeply-indented, ship- 
wrecking coast, guarded by fearfully-fantastic 
gigantic blocks of broken cliff, stretching 
away on either side of it. It was 
late afternoon now ; the white sea-birds 
were whirling homewards, glittering in the 
level beams and against the deepening blue 
of the cloudless sky : their human-like 
screams and weird laughter were the only 
sounds that reached Wilfred ; for, though 
the water imprisoned in the bay fretted 
and foamed, the sea was a calm expanse, 
into which the sun would soon dip calmly; 



62 BOND AND FREE. 

and there was no roar and dash of heavy 
breakers to send their voices to where he stood. 
On this scene Wilfred gazed with a feel- 
ing as of consciousness of moving beneath 
a new heaven, upon a new earth. His 
mother's love had apparently exercised a 
renewing power upon his spiritual as upon 
his physical life ; his mother's love, which 
seemed to him a love compounded of all 
that is best in all human loves ; a love 
quiet in its perfectness, its utter meekness, 
and its freedom from all taint of selfish- 
ness. " A soul shall be saved by love." 
Through and by such a love, would not 
a nature like Wilfred's be surely drawn 
unto God's love ? To-day he wept and 
was not ashamed, as his thoughts dwelt 
long upon the infinity of God's love and 
mercy, manifested to him. He felt as if 
all burdens had fallen from his soul — as if 
he were free to walk — free spirit through 



BOND AND FREE. 63 

free life — on and on towards eternity, bearing 
only the cross which, voluntarily taken up, 
is no burden. 

All mortals, till they yield up their 
wills, move beneath a sense of weight. 
Mere existence is a burden. Some groan 
beneath, and fret against, and curse their 
load : others recognize in it a glorious 
symbol of immortality — the presence of a 
dim consciousness of power, superfluous to 
all the requirements of this life, which 
the will ever vainly strives to use and to 
comprehend. It is only when we take up 
the cross that we can wholly throw off all 
other burdens. The bearing of that cross of 
utter resignation to God's will — which seems 
possible to so few till they are unwilled by 
the hand of death — precludes the conscious- 
ness of other burdens. 

The blow which he had dreaded all his 
life had fallen. Wilfred found himself heir 



64 BOND AND FREE. 

to a disgraced name — the son of a father 
whose fame was infamy. Instead of sink- 
ing beneath a knowledge the mere dread 
of which had done so much to crush all 
true manliness out of him, he began to 
see that it was the striving of his own 
will against God's will — consequent upon 
the want of faith — that had wearied him 
and weakened him, till he had possessed 
no strength to bear his real burdens — or 
to fight the fight with self and sense re- 
quired of all men — but had allowed him- 
self to fall into that abject passivity be- 
neath the sway of his own passions, 
which had made him alternately the play- 
thing and the slave of circumstance. 

Planting firmer feet upon the soil, raising 
resolute eyes to heaven, Wilfred asked for 
strength and life to make his future dif- 
ferent — strength and life to do some ser- 
vice to God by serving his fellow-men. 



BOND AND FREE. 65 

The sun set into the sea ; the wind 
sprang up suddenly, driving the tide into 
the rocky bay with greater force; the sea- 
birds after congregating on the cliffs gra- 
dually disappeared in their crevices. Wilfred 
turned his eyes towards the nest-like cot- 
tage at the foot of the hill ; he saw his 
mother come out into the small garden and 
look upwards, seeking him; a few moments 
brought him to her side. 

"You stayed rather late— it is cold for 
you — come in and drink the coffee I have 
made," was her greeting. 

They went in arm-in-arm, and Wilfred 
was made to rest by the bright little fire 
which had been kindled in his absence. 

" What are these ? " he asked, pointing 
to old letters and newspapers which were 
arranged upon the table. 

" I shall be happier when you know all. 
I want you to read these to-night — what 

VOL. III. F 



66 BOND AND FREE. 

they do not tell you I have written on 
this paper." 

"And it has pained you! I see it in 
your face, and hear it in your voice. Did 
I not tell you that I was satisfied to have 
you for my mother — that I wanted to know 
no more ? " 

"It is for his sake — that you may think 
of him more justly " 

" For his sake ! My father's ? " 

"I was not thinking of your father, but 
of — of your guardian," she said, in- a voice 
low and tremulous. There followed silence. 

" I shall leave you/' she added, pre- 
sently ; "I have promised to visit a sick 
woman in the village to-night — I could 
not bear to sit by you while you read 
these." 

After lingering a few moments — lighting 
the candles, drawing the curtains, and 
making up the fire — she left the house. 



BOND AND FREE. 67 

Wilfred, contending with almost invincible 
reluctance, turned to those papers. 

At seventeen Hesther Grey had allowed 
herself to be betrothed to Mr. Ireton, 
then thirty-seven. She was an orphan, 
and not happy with the relatives under 
whose care she had been placed. She 
had not found out that she had a heart : 
she respected Mr. Ireton, and was flat- 
tered by his preference. 

Soon after the engagement, however, a 
young relative of her aunt's — who was the 
son of Ireton's oldest and dearest friend, 
and filled a confidential post in his employ — 
came on a visit to the quiet country- 
house which he had never before honoured 
by his presence. Whether mere idle love 
of mischief or deliberate malice prompted 
this first visit of Wilfred Verbane's, no 
one could tell. Mr. Ireton, always a 
diligent man of business, was especially 

f2 



68 BOND AND FREE. 

occupied at that time — working doubly 
then, for leisure by-and-by, and using 
present leisure to superintend the building 
of a house in a spot where Hesther had 
once said she should like to live. His 
visits to his betrothed were few : he was 
a man of deeds, not words, and his 
short, dry letters revealed to her eager 
and inexperienced eyes little of the love 
and tenderness treasured up in the store- 
house of his heart, to be one day lavished 
on his young wife. 

That first visit of Wilfred Verbane's 
was repeated ; he took care to let Hesther 
know, and to conceal from everyone else, 
that she was the attraction which drew 
him to Stone Hall. That he might go to 
work more unsuspectedly, he paid open 
court to the daughter of a neighbouring 
house. Cold and cautious when others 
were present, he was ardent and daring when 



BOND AND FREE. 69 

he found himself alone with his young 
and beautiful victim. He fed his love by 
hate at first — for he hated his employer ; 
afterwards he fed his hate by love, for he 
soon began to feel the passion he had 
feigned. Only a few years older than 
Hesther — but used to society and admira- 
tion, experienced in evil, and practised in 
most ways of wickedness — singularly hand- 
some, with a manner towards women of 
soft caressing fascination — gifted with the 
ready and superficial cleverness that ensures 
success in the world and dazzles the in- 
experienced, and also with the perfect self- 
confidence which looks like unconscious 
frankness — accustomed from infancy to com- 
pass his own ends by deceit and cunning, 
and perfectly unfettered by any principles 
likely to impose self-restraint — -Wilfred 
Verbane succeeded in captivating the fancy 
and rousing the passions of the girl for 



70 BOND AND FREE. 

whom his love was such as an utterly- 
selfish and sensual nature is capable of. 
Love, revenge, and self-interest — for Hesther 
was an heiress — all combined to make 
him determine that he would win her. 

He gained his footing, step by step, 
leaving no way of winning influence un- 
tried. He practised upon her natural 
indignation at Mr. Ireton's apparent neg- 
lect, till he had fanned it into a fierce 
flame : by dwelling on his harsh sternness 
he deepened her slight awe of him into 
positive fear ; and he worked upon her 
tender-heartedness, speaking pathetically of 
his own sad position, orphaned and de- 
pendent upon a tyrant. 

All this was done gradually, subtly — 
so skilfully, that her heart melted towards 
the schemer, as it rebelled against his 
master ; while, insensibly to herself, her 
pity for the oppressed, and resentment 



BOND AND FREE. 71 

against the oppressor, combined to feed a 
clandestine passion. A servant-girl in the 
house was bribed, and taken into the 
confidence of the lovers. Notes contain- 
ing expressions of most devoted, ardent, 
and despairing passion found their way to 
the victim's chamber, under her very 
pillow — read by stealth, and at night, they 
did their work well. 

At last, moved by his representations 
that he could see her in no other way, 
without betraying his passion to others — 
and by his threats of self-destruction if 
she refused to comply with his entreaty — 
Hesther consented to give Verbane a secret 
meeting in the plantation at night. His pas- 
sion was real enough now; he exerted all his 
eloquence in pleading it, and extorted a con- 
fession that it was not unreturned. From 
that time she was made to feel that she 
was in his power. He bound her to secrecy 



72 BOND AND FREE. 

by the most solemn oath ; and no subse- 
quent prayers of hers, to be allowed to 
throw herself at her betrothed's feet and 
confess all, availed to win her release. 
He gave her little time for reflection ; 
they met constantly — always secretly now. 
He kept her passions awake, her con- 
science asleep, and worked alike upon 
her fear and love, till the very eve of 
the time fixed for her marriage with Mr. 
Ireton. 

The bridegroom, loaded with gifts — and 
wearing in his heart the jewel of a deep 
and tender, though undemonstrative, love — 
came to fetch home his bride. The very 
night before the wedding-day the favoured 
lover decoyed the bride away. At mid- 
night she stole from the house to meet 
him, and by morning she was scores of 
miles from the village church which was 
being adorned for her bridal — scores of 



BOND AND FREE. 73 

miles from the one true heart which alone 
loved her. 

"It is her treachery that maddens me/' 
Mr. Ireton said, in a letter to Hesther's 
aunt, written some days after the elope- 
ment. " I hate myself for the veriest of 
fools, when I think of the soft nonsense 
I talked to her that last night — of the 
rapture I felt when I kissed her cheek 
— of the timidity with which I pressed 
my lips upon it, where his have been 
pressed a hundred times — the first woman's 
cheek I have kissed since I was a boy. 
Her cheek was hot — ay, and it was guilt, 
not, as I thought, modesty, that made it 
burn. Well, she has chosen a miserable 
lot. I find he is more a villain than I 
thought at first. I am robbed and cheated 
to an extent that will be my ruin, and 
that of others with me. It was not mere 
malice that dictated the time of the elope- 



74 BOND AND FREE. 

ment. In my absence everything was in 
his hands. He has shown a calculating 
scoundrelism which is positively devilish. 
My curse will be, that I shall never be 
able to forgive. If he had but spared 
my honest name — but his forgeries have 
blackened that for ever." 

Too noble to seek a revenge that must 
strike the woman whom he had loved, 
he was not noble enough to forgive; and 
this proved indeed the curse of his life. 

In his first despair he let ruin come 
and met it stoically ; afterwards, the dreary 
aim of his life was to retrieve, to more 
than retrieve, his position, and to make 
reparation to those who had been involved 
with him. 

Hesther lived abroad with her husband 
for a few years, till he had spent her whole 
fortune, had dragged her through various 
depths of misery and degradation, and was 



BOND AND FREE. 75 

tired of her. A depraved husband will 
necessarily drag a woman downward — God 
only can see to what extent her descent 
is voluntary. 

When all their money was spent, Yerbane 
brought his wife to England ; where he en- 
tered upon a fresh career of crime. His 
last exploit was to attempt the life of his 
former employer : he was convicted of the 
minor offence of house-breaking, and trans- 
ported — but not for life. 

From the newspapers Wilfred obtained 
full particulars of the trial and sentence; 
of the demeanour of "the wretched culprit," 
his father, and of his prosecutor. 

It was when her boy, whom she had 
supported by the work of her hands, began 
to grow out of infancy, and her own health 
became feeble and uncertain, that a ghastly 
terror took possession of the mother — a 
terror lest her son should fall some day 



76 BOND AND FREE. 

into his father's hands — learn to tread in 
his father's footsteps — shamed by the bear- 
ing of a branded name — rebelling against 
her weak, worshipping, insufficient sway — 
or, by her death, left without even that 
poor shield. This terror, gaming complete 
possession of her shaken faculties, gra- 
dually led her up to the resolve of 
abandoning her idol to Mr. Ireton's guar- 
dianship. The course commended itself to 
her doubly — it was salvation to her boy, 
and reparation towards one whom she had 
wronged; for she did not dream but that 
her one jewel must be almost as precious 
in other eyes as in her own. 

" When he said, ' I may hate the boy/ 
I did not believe that to be possible. I 
humbled myself at his feet, begging his 
promise to take my child into his house 
on my death, and never to let him hear 
of his father. He gave me the promise I 



BOND AND FREE. 77 

desired. A few days after I sent you to 
him, and left his neighbourhood. I ordered 
a small legacy that had been left me by 
my aunt, since my husband's transportation, 
to be paid to Mr. Ireton, to defray the 
expenses of your education. Of course he 
then believed that I was dead. I meant 
him to believe that I was dead." 

The narrative went no further. Of all 
his mother's lonely years, after she had 
relinquished him, Wilfred learnt nothing. He 
mused and mused; by-and-by a slight noise 
made him lift his eyes from the fire and 
turn — in the doorway stood his mother, 
gazing at him. 

Without a word he went to her and 
took her in his arms. Then he read her 
face over and over — finding this line of 
love and longing, this of sorrow and care, 
this of want and suffering, this of self- 
denial : one by one he kissed them, saying : — 



78 BOND AND FREE. 

" God reward you and requite you, 
mother — I never can, though I will try with 
all my life." 

When she was seated by him, she said 
softly : — 

"I was wrong, Wilfred — I know now 
that I was wrong — in giving you up. It 
was going against nature — making myself 
your Providence, instead of trusting in God. 
I should have known that as I pined for 
my child he would pine for his mother. We 
ought not to have parted." 

" We ought not ; but however much 
you were mistaken, your sacrifice was as 
great : the self-denying love that prompted 
it was gloriously strong ! I am proud of my 
mother ! " 

"I did not know how his grief and the 
wrong that had been done him had soured 
him. I did not believe that he could keep 
his heart closed against you. Mistrusting 



BOND AND FREE. 79 

myself and my power to keep from you, 
I went abroad after I had given you up. 
I lived first as nurse, then as governess, 
in several German families : working my 
way up, I at last became English teacher 
in one of the best schools in Hanover, and 
afterwards obtained private pupils. It was 
while I taught at the school, many weary, 
dreary years after I had first gone abroad, 
that I became acquainted with Eleanour 
Narpenth. She took one of her capricious 
fancies to me — and this led to my being, 
long years afterwards, offered a situation 
as her companion. This offer I accepted 
because I believed there was a chance of 
hearing of your guardian at her father's 
house, and my hunger and thirst after 
news of you were becoming uncontrol- 
lable." 

" Did you know me at once, mother, 
when we met at Thorndon ? " 



80 BOND AND FREE. 

" I ean hardly say that I did or that I 
did not. Ignorant of your position, even of 
the name your guardian had given you, 
I had paid no heed to anything that was 
said about ' Mr. Mason/ till I read some 
poems of yours : it seemed to me that they 
must be written by a man in such a posi- 
tion as that of my unknown son. Then 
when you called yourself Wilfred Mason 
irresistible conviction flashed upon me; the 
wildest of wild struggles began within me. 
How many times and how desperately I 
longed to have you in my arms, if only 
for a moment! — how many times I longed 
to push all others from you, to claim you 
as mine, and only mine ! " 

" Oh, mother ! if you had but done 
so!" 

" Your father's sentence had expired, 
Wilfred, and I did not know that he was 
dead ! Do you wonder that, expecting his 



BOND AND FREE. 81 

return, I strove to be silent longer? — I saw 
that you were sensitive — was it likely that, 
if I could help it, I should let you be 
haunted by such dread as haunted me ? 
The more I gloried in having such a son, 
the more I felt that I must not claim 
him, while " 

Here the trembling voice utterly broke 
down ; but only for a few moments — the 
poor woman was soon calm again. 

" The time when I tried to stand be- 
tween you and Eleanour Narpenth, and 
brought your indignation upon me, Wilfred, 
was the bitterest time of all my life," she 
said. "Then I felt how foolishly wise I 
had been — felt that all your temptations 
came to you through me — felt paralyzed 
of all power to help you — that time was 
like a bad dream." 

" God grant that my life may be one 

VOL. III. G 



82 BOND AND FREE. 

long effort to make you happy ! " said her 
son, as he kissed her. 

" There is no need of any effort — my 
heart is brimful of the clearest and purest 
joy. The mere possession of your love, and 
the knowledge of how sweet, and good, 
and noble you are, is enough. Even if, 
for your happiness, I should some day be 
called upon to give you up — in your hap- 
piness I should still be happy." 

" Praise me, mother — call me noble, strong, 
heroic, all that I am not ! God willing, 
I will grow towards the standard of your 
belief. I feel weak and ignorant as a 
little child: with God's blessing, the strength 
of true manliness may grow from this child- 
like weakness.'' 



83 



CHAPTER VII. 

" And there arrives a lull in the hot race 
Wherein he doth for ever chase 

That flying and elusive shadow, Rest ; 
An air of coolness plays upon his face, 

And an unwonted calm pervades his breast." 

Wilfred and his mother, sitting at their 
breakfast-table, merrily discussed ways and 
means of living. Wilfred had nothing, and 
his mother had but little ; yet neither of 
them seemed the least dismayed at their 
position. 

Mrs. Smith — for whom her late master 
had comfortably provided — had arrived at 
Tyngelt the night before, meaning to re- 

g 2 



84 BOND AND FREE. 

side there for the future. She brought 
with her news from the outer world which 
might not otherwise have reached the 
Verbanes. Mr. Ireton, dying a wealthy 
man, had left the bulk of his property 
to Mrs. Southern, in reparation of losses 
her late husband had sustained through 
him. But an appeal had been made 
against this will by the heir-at-law, and 
there was a slight doubt whether some 
legal flaw might not prevent its being 
carried into execution. 

Returning to their first topic, after hav- 
ing commented upon Mrs. Smith's news, 
Wilfred said : — 

"The question is, how shall we manage 
to remain at Tyngelt? I know that you 
love the place." 

"Yes I do love it! — but that is no 
reason why you should bury yourself here, 
so completely out of the world — for I 



BOND AND FREE. 85 

shall love any place where we may live 
together." 

"From what I have seen, and from 
what you have told me of the place, I 
should say there is plenty of work to 
be done here. This thickly - populated 
mining district appears to be a virgin 
field, ripe for harvest and calling earnestly 
for labourers. What I want to discover is 
some way of bread-winning that will allow 
of our remaining at Tyngelt. You look 
surprised, mother ; but I have made a 
twofold resolution — never to expose you to 
the vicissitudes of dependence upon my 
literary work for bread, or myself to the 
temptation of knowing you to be dependent 
upon it. What I want is some regular way 
of earning what people call l a modest and 
independent maintenance/ " 

" We can live here very cheaply — the 
price of everything is so moderate." 



86 BOND AND FREE. 

"Still we cannot live upon nothing." 

"I am a very clever person, Wilfred. 
I can turn my hand to most things. In 
the great house — Tyngelt Place, where the 
Tregarthers live — I might meet with em- 
ployment of some kind, if — " 

"Thank you, mother, that is the very 
thing." 

"You will let me try, then? You will 
not insist upon my being a dead weight 
on your hands?" 

" What are you talking about, mother, 
dear? I beg your pardon, but I was 
thinking of this." 

As he spoke he pointed to an advertise- 
ment in the county-paper which lay on the 
table between them. 

" An advertisement for a Secretary — 
that would not suit me," his mother said, 
in a disappointed tone. 

" But it may suit me. I am far too 



BOND AND FREE. 87 

selfish to be thinking of you. I mean to 
have all the pleasure of work to myself. 
Tregarther ! I thought I knew the name 
— young Tregarther — he was drowned on 
the south coast a few years since — was a 
friend of poor Herbert Southern's. It is 
curious that you should have settled in 
their neighbourhood. " 

" Not curious ; for it was not chance 
— not even what people call chance, 
Wilfred. I felt sure that Mr. Ireton 
must be known here ; I felt sure that I 
could get tidings of him from the fore- 
man of the works here : and so there 
still seemed a link between you and 
me while I lived in this place." 

" Do you know anything about Tre- 
garther ? Have you heard him spoken of 
since you have been here ? " 

" He is in Parliament — people say he 
is both liberal and ambitious, but not 



88 BOND AND FREE. 

clever. He married a lady of title, who 
I should think is clever and ambitious and 
not liberal. I hear that he is philanthropic 
— desirous of establishing schools, and of 
building a lecture-hall — but not energetic. 
I should think that what he wants is 
some one to do all the work, while 
he has all the praise." 

"I fancy the secretaryship may suit me, 
and that I may suit the secretaryship. 
How far off is Tyngelt Place?" 

"Nearly three miles across the moor, 
and nearly five by the carriage-road. I 
do not think the situation is good enough 
for you, my son. In introducing yourself, 
Wilfred, shall you make use of your old 
name, as well as of your real one ? " 
: "I do not wish to bridge over the 
space between my past and present life 
more than I can help. I think I may 
venture to refer Mr. Tregarther to Mr. 



BOND AND FREE. 89 

Narpenth for such information about me 
as he may desire. By-the-by, mother, has 
any news of — of the Narpenths reached 
you lately ?" 

Mrs. Verbane's face clouded over; see- 
ing which, Wilfred's assumed an anxious, 
troubled expression. 

" Do not hesitate to tell me anything 
you may have heard — I had rather know 
anything you know about Eleanor/' 

" She is going to be married — to an 
artist, of the name of Edler — a German." 

" Going to marry Edler !- — he is a noble- 
looking fellow ! I hope she will not make him 
unhappy ; but it seems so very sudden — 
one cannot help fearing that she is acting 
recklessly. " 

" They are old friends — this Mr. Edler 
taught drawing at the Hanover school 
where I was English teacher. He became 
attached to Miss Narpenth, and received 



90 BOND AND FREE. 

considerable encouragement from her. 
When she returned to England — this I 
heard from Miss Narpenth herself — he fol- 
lowed her, and obtained pupils in London, 
she being one of them. He was of good 
family and good character ; and when he 
became sure that his love was returned, 
he asked her father's sanction to an en- 
gagement between them. His own pros- 
pects being fair, I think that if Captain 
Narpenth had not interfered, the young 
people would have had it all their own 
way. But Captain Narpenth had other 
views for his sister ; he worked upon his 
father, and made him refuse his consent; 
and for this, and the ridicule he poured 
upon her, Miss Narpenth never forgave 
him. Her love grew stronger for being 
thwarted. I think that she herself proposed 
an elopement. Her maid found this out, and 
betrayed her mistress to Captain Narpenth. 



BOND AND FREE. 91 

I do not know exactly what followed ; but 
after having gone so far that she ought, I 
think, to have sacrificed all for her lover — 
to have married him and shared his poverty — 
for she had then no control over her own 
fortune, she proved herself as weak as she 
had been impulsive, and gave him up. He, 
it seems, never gave her up. 

"I hope Eleanour's love for so constant 
a lover will be such as he deserves. To 
be sure that she is happy would be a great 
relief to me ; freeing me not from self- 
reproach — from that I can never escape — 
but from remorse for the consequences of 
criminal weakness." 

" I cannot see the criminality of your 
conduct, Wilfred. Miss Narpenth did not 
strive to hide the fact that she loved you. 
She is beautiful and fascinating ; for you 
she was also gentle and amiable. It was 
natural that you should allow yourself to 



92 BOND AND FREE. 

believe that you loved her. I do not 
think that one man out of a hundred 
would have acted differently." 

Wilfred paused before he answered ; full 
confession trembled on his lips, but not 
even to his mother could he yet speak 
calmly of Felicia. 

"You forget, mother," he said by-and- 
by, "that I firmly believed that while I 
was ignorant of my name and birth I 
had no right to marry. In seeking Elea- 
nour's society, and in other ways, I exposed 
myself to temptations which I was too 
feeble to overcome. I selfishly sought my 
own pleasure, shutting the eyes of my con- 
science to the possible consequences for 
her. Surely nothing can be less manly 
than for a man — for the mere pleasure, 
luxury and excitement of his senses — -to 
allow himself to become the object of a 
woman's passionate attachment or of her 



BOND AND FREE. 93 

reverent affection, without trying himself to 
ascertain whether he is love-worthy, capable 
of loving her again for herself alone — free 
to love her again, only and solely, as she 
loves him." He could not help thinking of 
Felicia as well as of Eleanour as he spoke. 

"Do you think she loved you for your- 
self alone ? — you only and solely ? She 
would never have loved you, if she had 
known you first as her father's clerk. 
Even while she loved you, she sometimes 
let her fancy amuse itself with the love 
another man bore her/' 

" It seems to me, dear mother, that 
you, like all other women I have known, 
judge men too leniently, and women too 
sternly. Don't you think that, for one girl 
who plays with a man's heart and en- 
dangers his happiness, there are a hundred 
unmanly men who study to make them- 
selves beloved, or allow themselves to become 



94 BOND AND FREE. 

so, without any thought or care about 
repaying the love they win ? " 

" It may be so ; but the fault is blacker 
in the woman than in the man. I cannot 
reason upon what I mean ; yet I feel that 
I am right when I say that one woman 
who invites, or self-indulgently permits, love 
which she cannot return to be poured out 
at her feet, does more evil, both to other 
women and to men, than do the hundred 
men-triflers acting in the same way. It 
sounds cruel to say it ; but I think it is 
true that it does a true woman no moral 
and spiritual harm to suffer; that when a 
woman 'goes wrong' after a disappointment, 
it is fair to believe that under no cir- 
cumstances would she have led a beautiful 
life. Women are born more patient than 
men ; to suffer patiently is no great merit 
in them, and is the discipline of their lives : 
both love and suffering — suffering through 



BOND AND FREE. 95 

love, or suffering loss of love — are needful 
for the full awakenment of a woman's nature. 
I suppose you think that it sounds cruel to 
say that it does women no harm to suffer ; 
it is not a doctrine that it would be safe to 
preach to most men ; but I think that most 
true women will feel that it is a true doc- 
trine. I did not mean to make a long 
harangue, Wilfred ; I only wanted to defend 
myself from your accusation of sternness. 
Of the harm done by deceit and faithless- 
ness in a woman I know only too much, 
knowing how the whole nature of a good 
man was hardened and embittered by my 
treachery. The woman he loves should be 
for a man a revelation of something higher 
than he finds elsewhere in this world, 
opening to him something of heaven; when, 
instead, his glimpses into her nature are 
more like glimpses of hell — when he finds 
his love made sport of, and his faith abused 



96 BOND AND FREE. 

— who shall calculate the amount to which 

he is injured " 

"Say no more on the subject, dearest 
mother. It is natural that you should 
feel as you do; no doubt it is a dim con- 
sciousness of the truth of what you say 
that makes women often, as we think, 
hard in their judgments of each other. 
Still I cannot help believing that sin, 
being sin, in either man or woman, is judged 
as such in both, and in the one case acts 
and reacts as infinitely as in the other. If 
my conduct towards Eleanour has driven 
her into the arms of another from reckless- 
ness rather than from love — and if, when it 
is too late, he feels this and resents it — who 
shall say where that misery which I have set 
going will stop ; but I trust in God such is 
not the case — I trust that the old love may 
prove itself to have been the real love." 
As Wilfred, rising to leave the house, 



BOND AND FREE. 97 

having kissed his mother, stood gazing at 
her for a few moments, he thought how 
beautiful she was now, with the spiritual 
beauty of peaceful joy after long-suffering. 

" What time shall you be home, my son ? " 

"Not till dinner-time. I am going to 
try my fortune at Tyngelt Place." 

Wilfred's progress across the moor was 
but slow. This morning all nature seemed 
clothed in intensely-significant beauty. He 
thought much and tenderly of Eleanour 
Narpenth; and he prayed earnestly for her 
happiness — feeling almost overpowered by 
gratitude for the serenity and peace that 
had fallen upon his own life. 

He had to rouse himself from his musing 
mood when he found himself at the great 
bronze gates of Tyngelt Place. 

The present house, a long, low, range of 
building, stood on the site of the ancient 
mansion ; the avenue of magnificent old limes 

vol. in. H 



98 BOND AND FREE. 

which led up to it in a semicircular sweep 
seemed out of harmony with the white new- 
ness of the rather ugly structure. 

Wilfred was ushered into a library, open- 
ing, as did all the long range of windows 
at the west side of the house, upon a piazza, 
from which an expanse of smoothest lawn 
sloped down to a stream. Beyond the stream 
were a few groups of forest-trees; between 
them you saw the half-encircling belt of 
limes. Growing on much lower ground than 
that on which the house was built, the 
trees allowed glimpses of flashing blue sea to 
be discerned above their piny, browning crests. 
Wilfred had sent in a card, with the 
name of Wilfred Verbane written upon it. 
After some delay, Mr. Tregarther came into 
the room, holding this card and an open 
letter in his hand. Only a few prelimi- 
nary remarks were exchanged before he put 
the letter into Wilfred's hand, asking, 



BOND AND FREE. 99 

" Do you know anything of the writer ? " 

Glancing at once at the signature, Wilfred 
answered — 

" Yes." 

" Pray read the note itself; I received 
it only a few days before I heard of the 
writer's death." 

The note was simply this : — 

" I have just heard that a woman, 
whose real name is Hesther Verbane (born 
Grey), but who may now pass by some 
other — in which case let her real name re- 
main known only to you — a woman whom, 
till to-day, I believed to have died up- 
wards of five-and-twenty years ago, is now 
living near the village of Tyngelt. If you 
can in any way serve her — or her son, 
should he be living with her — you will 
oblige, 

" Your obedient servant, 

" John Masters Ireton." 
h 2 



100 BOND AND FREE. 

The date of the note was that of the 
day before the writer's death; the clause 
" or her son, should he be living with 
her," inserted above the line, was evidently 
an after-thought. 

Mr. Tregarther had turned away to the 
window : there was a considerable pause 
before ATOfred spoke. 

" Hesther Verbane is my mother," he 
said ; and said nothing more. 

Mr. Tregarther took no further notice 
of the letter ; but, trying to draw Wilfred 
out, began to speak on political subjects, 
touching upon most of the social topics of 
the day. 

The interest Wilfred had in these matters 
was a new interest, born of new views of 
life and new hopes of usefulness — conse- 
quently it was a warm interest, touched with 
enthusiasm. As far as Mr. Tregarther 
could enter into Wilfred's meaning, his 



BOND AND FREE. 101 

ideas seemed to him to coincide with 
his own ; or to be an idealization of his 
plainer, more practical notions. As Wilfred 
kindled, his manner and whole bearing 
exercised a sort of fascination over the 
great man, who — borne along by the elo- 
quence of his language, while he was flat- 
tered by the deference and gentleness, 
captivated by the originality and indepen- 
dence of his address, and impressed by its 
grace and refinement — found himself, in the 
pleasure of conversation with one who not 
only apprehended his ideas, but, as it were, 
interpreted him to himself, forgetting the 
business which had brought him this plea- 
sure. 

At the first pause in the flow of talk 
Wilfred rose : then, before he had time to 
return to the subject of the secretaryship, 
Mr. Tregarther said, with something apolo- 
getic in his hurried manner : — 



102 BOND AND FREE. 



" How soon may I avail myself of your 
services should the proposal I make you — 
which I had better make in writing, in- 
stead of detaining you now — be satisfactory 
to you ? I am overwhelmed with business, 
and am anxious to set on foot some of 
the schemes to which I have alluded." 

"I am quite at liberty at present — 
next week." 

" That would do charmingly." 

" But — as to references, you will re- 
quire " 

" This letter, and, excuse my freedom, 
your own appearance, amply suffice." 

" May I beg to be allowed to keep 
this letter? Circumstances render it parti- 
cularly valuable to me." 

" Certainly, pray do so." 

The great man himself ushered Wilfred 
into the hall, and there cordially shook 
hands with him ; rather to the disgust of 



BOND AND FREE. 103 

his Lady who crossed it at the time. 

Returning to his library, he rubbed his 
hands together softly, and soliloquized in a 
self-congratulatory manner — 

" A most superior man ; I must try 
hard to secure him and to keep him — won- 
derful that he should think of burying him- 
self at Tyngelt. Something rather mysterious 
about his history, perhaps." 

Wilfred met his mother near the cot- 
tage ; she was coming to meet him, anxious 
to know the result of his application. 
Questioning his face, she found something 
strange shining in his eyes. With a few 
words of explanation, he put the note into 
her hands. 

" Forgiven ! " she breathed out, and a 
great joy irradiated her face. Then she 
pulled her veil over it, leant on her son's 
arm, and they walked home in perfect 
silence. 



104 BOND AND FREE. 

To herself, through that day and aloud 
at night, she many times repeated that 
WO rd — "forgiven." This joy was no selfish 
joy — it was as much that he forgave, as 
that she was forgiven, that she rejoiced 
and felt that the crowning crown had 
fallen upon her happiness. 



105 



CHAPTER VIII. 

" Ein guter Abend kommt heran, 
Wenn ich den ganzen Tag gethan." 

Five years had past since Mrs. Yerbane 
had brought her son to Tyngelt. Summer 
was in its full glory still. Each succeed- 
ing month and year had made Mr. Tre- 
garther more aware of the value of his 
secretary, and had increased his direct and 
indirect dependance upon him. Even Lady 
Tregarther was forced to acknowledge to 
herself that her husband owed a great 
deal to " that talented and indefatigable 
person, Mr. Yerbane." At the same time, 



106 BOND AND FREE. 

she considered Wilfred's influence to be 
somewhat dangerous. Mr. Tregarther was 
now and then carried away by the enthu- 
siasm of his secretary, hurried along a 
good road faster and further than he had 
entertained any intention of travelling — 
much further and faster than his Lady con- 
sidered it desirable that he should travel. 
She feared, too, that his liberalism was 
inclined to become rampant — that his views 
were slightly tinged with quixotism. Her tory 
friends hinted at a tendency towards radical- 
ism and republicanism, and these two words 
were terrible to the ears of Lady Tre- 
garther. It also appeared to the practical 
and prudent lady that Wilfred's hand was 
always in her husband's purse : lavish of 
his own time and thought, he did not let 
false delicacy prevent his making large and 
frequent claims upon his employer's wealth. 
The town of Tyngelt — which was about 



BOND AND FREE. 107 

equally distant from Seafern Cottage and 
from Tyngelt Place, and lay further inland 
than either of them — now boasted of a 
building — of its kind the largest and hand- 
somest in the county — erected and endowed by 
Mr. Tregarther, and devoted to educational 
purposes — principally to the education of 
adults. Very shortly — upon Mr. Tregarther's 
return from a brief sojourn abroad, which 
his Lady had thought requisite for his health 
— this building was to be publicly opened. 
The good work that was to be carried on in 
it had long since been unostentatiously com- 
menced by Wilfred and his mother. Hav- 
ing hired the two largest and most com- 
modious rooms to be had in the town, 
they had converted one into a reading 
and class-room, where Wilfred had attended 
twice a-day — reading the papers to such of 
the miners as could not read and chose 
to frequent this room — teaching reading 



108 BOND AND FREE. 

and writing to such as wished to be taught, 
and delivering simple and elementary lec- 
tures on various subjects likely to interest 
his hearers. In the other room Mrs. Ver- 
bane had pursued a somewhat similar course 
with girls and women. 

It was the success of this modest at- 
tempt, testified to by the crowded state of 
the rooms, that had stimulated Wilfred to 
urge Mr. Tregarther on to the execution 
of a scheme which he had vaguely enter- 
tained for years — even before he knew Wil- 
fred he had gone so far as to employ an 
architect to draw plans for the Tyngelt 
Mechanics' Institute. So far, but no fur- 
ther. Now the Tyngelt Mechanics' Institute 
— with its lecture-hall, reading, coffee, and 
class rooms, well-built, well-planned, and 
well-arranged — was a substantial reality, 
likely to become the pride of Mr. Tregar- 
ther's heart, as it was already the joy of 



BOND AND FREE. 109 

Wilfred's and of his mother's — to whose 
exertions it was mainly owing that the 
place and the people were ripe to reap 
the advantages it offered them. 

For a considerable portion of every year 
Wilfred's daily attendance at Tyngelt Place 
had not been a necessity. During such 
holiday times he had devoted himself more 
to his mother, to his work among the 
people, and to his literary work. 

About this time he had in the press 
a volume of Essays — chiefly upon such 
questions as the relation of class to class, 
and the duties of the employer to the 
employed — so thoughtful, so practical, so 
high-toned, and yet so simple of apprehen- 
sion, that when they appeared their recog- 
nition was general and enthusiastic. The 
writing of them had been a labour of love 
to Wilfred — their subjects were such as 
formed his keenest interests now, and he 



110 BOND AND FREE. 

wrote with knowledge of both sides of the 
truths of which he treated. Knowledge 
gained by his intercourse with Mr. Tre- 
garther, and by those frequent expeditions 
which he and his mother made into the 
neighbourhood — the object of which was to 
seek new pupils, or to endeavour to re- 
lieve some case of misery and destitution 
of which they had been told. 

Both gifted with that unconscious tact 
which exists as an instinct in some deli- 
cately-organized natures, they succeeded in 
coming heart to heart with those among 
whom they went — in penetrating into the 
very depths of their needs — into the se- 
crets of their crimes and of their virtues. 
Often they returned from their expeditions, 
not only physically weary, but with spirits 
depressed to something like despair. The 
field of labour was so wide, the labourers 
were so few, and the ill weeds which choked 



BOND AND FREE. Ill 

the grain were so deep-rooted. At such 
times each cheered the other, till both were 
cheered. There were bright things shining 
here and there in the awful darkness — 
jewels flashed forth from dunghills, and 
pearls lying among swine were trampled 
on and not destroyed. 

Sitting by his mother among her roses, 
after one of their longest and weariest 
days, Wilfred said : — 

"The more crime and misery I see, the 
better, on the whole, do I think of human 
nature. Perhaps, though, I ought hardly 
to say of human nature — it is the divinity 
in man that asserts itself so nobly here 
and there, shining with such pure lustre 
through so thick a night. Putting oneself, 
in imagination, into the position of some 
of the most wretched creatures we have 
seen to-day — thinking of the evil influ- 
ences that have surrounded them from the 



112 BOND AND FREE. 

dawn of reason — of the foulness of the 
atmosphere they have inhaled as native 
air — is not the natural feeling one of 
wonder that they are no worse ; and of 
awful recognition of that dignity in man 
which survives such degrading humiliations, 
and such polluting associations ? " 

" I think so — quite. A few times I 
have seen the death of women as wicked 
and as miserable as any in this dis- 
trict — I dare call them positively miser- 
able, but the worst of them I would 
not dare call positively wicked. Trying 
to imagine what of them would remain 
when all that was of the earth had pe- 
rished, I have been wonderfully comforted. 
Thinking of them as removed from a foul 
atmosphere, raised above the temptations 
consequent upon misery, I could believe — 
judging by passing flashes that revealed a 
core of truth and love in their hearts — 



BOND AND FREE. 113 

that in a pure and beautiful atmosphere 
they would have led lives at least as 
pure and beautiful as those of many wo- 
men, to think of whom in the same ca- 
tegory with them seems at first monstrous. 
After all, therefore, the change from the 
sinful woman to a creature, like-minded 
with a little child, who may hope to 
enter into the kingdom of heaven, is not 
so much, it seems to me, a transformation, 
as the falling off of outer husks to leave 
a wholesome kernel free." 

Exchanging thoughts and experiences 
thus, enjoying the cool air from the sea, 
and the fragrance from the garden, after 
the heat and toil of the day — who can 
doubt that Wilfred and his mother were 
happy? 

Wilfred had once said — 

" I half suspect that a man is not 
worthy the love of a true and beautiful- 

vol. in. I 



114 BOND AND FREE. 

natured woman, till, being sure of her hap- 
piness, he can be happy without her 
love." 

This was an article in his creed now. 

At the same time with those practical 
essays, a volume of poems, all written 
during his five years' residence at Tyn- 
gelt, was to appear. He was conscious 
that these poems — the fruits of a nature 
to which moral activity and practical Chris- 
tianity had given new bones and sinews, 
and which were the expressions of its 
clearest recognitions of highest truths, its 
deepest feelings of purest human love, 
and its most intense and worshipful con- 
victions of divine goodness — were not to be 
classed with those earlier productions which 
had been the mere expressions of the 
morbid self-consciousnesses of a poetic na- 
ture. He knew also, and by experience, 
that there was not, as might at first 



BOND AND FREE. 115 

appear, anything inconsistent in the ener- 
gies of one man being practically occu- 
pied by the most homely and real needs 
and interests of humanity, and by the 
contemplation of its most exalted and ideal 
wants and possibilities. The deepest depths of 
human feeling stirred, by witnessing the crimes 
and miseries of men, he felt that he must 
be overpowered by emotions of sorrow and 
despair, or must turn with intensified wor- 
ship of recognition to the contemplation of 
the grandeur of nature, and the goodness of 
God. 

Profoundest pity for his suffering fellows — 
earnest desire to serve them, and loving sym- 
pathy with them — minute appreciation of the 
varying shades of natural beauty, and high 
faith in its God-given power over the souls of 
men — spoke from all Wilfred Yerbane wrote 
at this time : but more strongly, subtlely, beau- 
tifully, from his poetry than from his prose. 

I 2 



116 



CHAPTER IX. 

' Saying, 'tis good enough for these, 
My fellows — it will pass and please — 
How arrogant are they who sit at ease ! " 

" Very glad to see you again, Mr. Ver- 
bane. And how have things been pro- 
gressing in my absence ? " was Mr. Tre- 
garther's greeting as he entered his secre- 
tary's room on the first morning after 
his return. 

"Well, the Institute is quite free from 
workmen/' 

" That is right. I have asked a few 
friends down to be present at the open- 



BOND AND FREE. 117 

ing, and I should like the first of August 
to be the day. How about your lec- 
tures ? " 

" I have worked at them industriously 
— they will be ready in time, I hope." 

" But are not yet completed ! Excuse 
my saying so, but I am afraid they will be 
too learnedly-elaborate. Had I fancied they 
would cost you so much labour, I should 
have hesitated about asking you to give 
them. I thought you could easily dash off 
something slight, sketchy, and suggestive ; 
and I knew that, the men being accustomed 
to your voice and manner, it would be a 
great thing gained if you, rather than any 
stranger, gave the first lectures of the 
course." 

" I think that on consideration you must 
agree with me in thinking that one must be 
complete master of a subject in order to be 
able to treat it slightly, sketchily, and, at 



118 BOND AND FREE. 

the same time, suggestively ; also, that 
such a style of treatment is only adapted 
for an audience who are already in a posi- 
tion to fill up the outlines of one's sketch 
and to follow out its suggestions — conse- 
quently only adapted for an audience who 
are almost as much masters of the subject 
as is the speaker. It seems to me," pur- 
sued Wilfred, with the peculiarly gentle 
smile and the persuasive voice with which 
he often tore to shreds Mr. Tregarther's 
commonplaces or laid bare his want of 
logic, " that the nature of my audience 
— which, at first sight, would appear to 
make careful elaboration a waste of time — 
in reality demands it. I am therefore 
laboriously endeavouring to carry my hearers 
with me step by step — to make all my 
assertions self-evident — to divest my style 
of any idiosyncrasy — to be sharp clear, and 
concise, so that no peculiarity or ambiguity 



BOND AND FREE. 119 

of mine may distract and embarrass those 
who listen to me. I am endeavouring, 
too, by leaning more on biography than on 
history, to clothe dry bones of dates and 
facts in human flesh and blood, and so to 
infuse a human interest into my subject." 

" I am only concerned that you should 
give yourself so much trouble, and expend 
so much original thought." 

" I believe I must work in my own way 
— interest myself before I can hope to 
interest others. Besides, don't you think 
that, in all work, one must be true to 
one's utmost capabilities in that direction ? 
— that a man has no right to offer less 
than his best to his fellows? If I were 
to stand before those eager, hard-working 
seekers after knowledge with a carelessly- 
prepared and ill-digested lecture, I think 
I should be guilty of sin against them, 
against myself, and against God. It seems 



120 BOND AND FREE. 

to ine that, in order to meet their honest 
ignorance as it ought to be met, I must 
stretch to the utmost all my own power 
and knowledge." 

" You know best, doubtless ; but I should 
have thought that it was easy to be easy 
— that what was easy to write would be 
easy to understand — that one might treat 
the ignorant and uneducated as one would 
treat children. My notions, I suppose, are 
plain and practical, while yours are rather 
poetical and metaphysical." 

" I think, Mr. Tregarther," Wilfred an- 
swered, laughingly, "that I am the more prac- 
tical of the two for once. ' There is nothing 
so difficult as simplicity/ the French lady 
said, and this you would feel if you had to 
teach young children or ignorant men. 
To be superficial and general is easy enough, 
as everybody knows ; to be simple and 
comprehensive, to begin at the beginning of 



BOND AND FREE. 121 

any subject, is harder than any one who 
has not made the effort would believe." 

" Yet books for children and tracts for 
the poor are generally written by persons of 
inferior intellect and ability — by women and 
comparatively uneducated men. How sel- 
dom the first writers of the day attempt any 
thing of the kind." 

" That is very true : only — and this ex- 
ception of mine touches on one of our old 
subjects of dispute — I would not include 
women in this sweeping classification of in- 
capability, because they often work better from 
instinct than men do from knowledge. Per- 
haps its being true accounts for the disheart- 
ening character of this class of literature, 
which is mostly produced by persons too 
superficial to distinguish between superfi- 
ciality and simplicity — not enlightened enough 
to comprehend the difficulty and dignity of 
what they undertake. Those more fitted for 



122 BOND AND FREE. 

the work are apt to recognize and shrink 
from its difficulties. Very few men are 
wise enough, good enough, or humble 
enough to write for children and for the 
uneducated. I do not feel that I am 
— and therefore, attempting to instruct 
and interest the latter, I feel bound to 
do my very utmost ; if I fail, it shall be 
for want of power, not for want of will." 

" Your views are rather at variance 
with received notions : they have some- 
thing in them, no doubt ; but do you 
not push them to an extreme ? Espe- 
cially as regards these lectures to be 
delivered to an audience of miners, which 
you are elaborating as if your audience 
were to include the great and learned 
of the earth." 

"I am sure that if you consider the 
case of these men — the sacrifices they 
make, and the obstacles they have to 



BOND AND FREE. 123 

contend with in their pursuit of know- 
ledge — your good heart will lead you 
to acknowledge that what they have a 
right to is — our very best, presented to 
them in the very best way. If, standing 
before them, I offered them any less 
than this, I should feel humiliated in 
their eyes and in my own." 

" You drive me into a corner, and 
force me to confess that there is some 
selfishness at the bottom of my concern 
that you should bestow so much time and 
labour upon these lectures. I want you 
for many things just now, and wished to 
propose that you should, for the present, 
give me more of your time." 

"If it is really necessary, I can do 
so ; but I have been thinking that I 
should like to take young Hind into my 
employ, as a sort of secretary's secre- 
tary." 



124 BOND AND FREE. 

" That young scapegrace ! " 

" The less said about his past life the 
better, I believe. At the same time, I 
have a strong feeling that he has valuable 
qualities, and may yet make a worthy 
man. If I employ him, I shall let him 
understand that I make myself responsible 
to you for his conduct." 

u He is a clever fellow, I know ; but weak 
of principle — always ready to be led away. 
He is continually getting into trouble — ex- 
posing himself to temptations, which he is not 
strong enough to resist." 

" As do so many of us," said the secretary, 
with his twilight smile. He added — 

" My plan, if you approve it, is to keep 
him working at our cottage ; where he can 
be constantly under my mother's surveil- 
ance, or my own. I have, as you know 
unlimited faith in my mother's influence 
for good ; she will endeavour to give the 



BOND AND FREE. 125 

young man tastes that will raise him above 
such temptations as those to which he has 
generally fallen a victim, and to strengthen 
feelings and principles that will raise him 
above yet higher temptations." 

" I have nothing to say against your 
employing Hind; see that he does not take 
you in, that is all : for the rest, use your 
own judgment. By-the-by, can you spare 
Lady Tregarther a few moments ? She wants 
to consult you about some of her arrange- 
ments for the first of August." 

" Be so good as to make my excuses for 
to-day. It is already late — my mother will 
be waiting dinner." 

Wilfred never encountered Lady Tregarther 
when he could avoid her. She was one of 
those women from whom such men as Wil- 
fred must always instinctively shrink. She 
had substantial good qualities, perhaps — so 
her friends said — but her character was 



1 26 BOND AND FREE. 

liard and un feminine, and her manner des- 
titute of all redeeming charm. When she 
wished to please, she could be neither 
gracious nor graceful ; and when, desiring 
to mark her consciousness of the difference 
between her position and that of the person 
whom she addressed, she meant to be merely 
frigid and formal, she was often rude and 
insulting. Priding herself on her candour, 
she seemed ignorant that what she regarded 
as candour was often mere discourtesy and 
brusquerie : utterly wanting in the instinctive 
tact of a refined nature, and despising the 
conventional polish of society, which might 
have disguised this want, she constantly 
wounded the feelings of those with whom 
she came in contact, and had no sweet- 
ness or generosity by which to heal the 
wounds she made. 

To-day, however, Wilfred was doomed to 
sustain an encounter with this dreaded lady : 



BOND AND FREE. 127 

his retreat was cut off, and he was entrapped 
into Lady Tregarther's morning room. Though 
he refused to sit down, and pleaded, half- 
laughingly, half-pathetically, his hunger, and 
his mother's anxiety, he was obliged to 
listen to a list of the guests who were 
expected at the Place, and to give his 
opinion upon matters connected with the 
arrangements for the fete, and the amuse- 
ments for the succeeding days. 

When, at last, Wilfred reached Seafern 
Cottage, his mother, who stood at the garden 
gate, watching for him, immediately detected 
an expression of pain or of annoyance, on 
his face. 

" The heat tires you, my son ! " she 
said, as Wilfred dismounted from his horse — 
which was a recent present from Mr. Tre- 
garther — and threw the reins to his small 
groom. 

" A little, mother ; and you," he added, 



128 BOND AND FREE. 

brightening, " nothing tires you — you grow 
younger and more beautiful every day." 

" Flatterer ! " 

"This evening light is the only flatterer 
— slanting on your cheek, it shows how 
smooth and clear it is. I am sure I look 
too old to be your son ! " 

That was really the case. At this time 
strangers often imagined the relation be- 
tween them to be that of husband and 
wife. She was but nineteen years older 
than her son; her hair was no greyer 
than his ; her face had gained a smooth 
roundness of outline, while his had a wasted 
look — as if the constant toil that kept his 
spirit so healthily and serenely quiet, tasked 
his body over-much. His temples, from 
which the hair had receded, appeared 
thought-worn — worn (or so any woman who 
loved him would have believed) by thoughts 
so high and noble, by cares so unselfish 



BOND AND FREE. 129 

and pure, that any other woman loving 
him must have longed to share his mother's 
privilege of pressing tender lips upon those 
worn temples — of lavishing tender cares on 
all his life. 

Mrs. Verbane led her son into the tiny- 
room, which all day she had sedulously kept 
dim and cool, and to the table on which 
a cold dinner, temptingly-arranged, had been 
waiting for more than an hour. 

After dinner, when the sun had set and 
the evening-breeze had risen, the mother 
and son strolled slowly to and fro upon 
the velvet turf at the cliff's edge. 

"Tyngelt Place is to be very gay this 
autumn," Wilfred said ; "I shall have a 
good deal to endure there from Lady Tre- 
garther. She wants me to arrange archery- 
fetes, and wants my advice about all sorts 
of things completely out of my line. I 
shall be obliged to resort to cunning to 

VOL. III. K 



130 BOND AND FREE. 

get clear of the house every evening — she 
is quite unscrupulous." 

" You promised me a holiday-tour this 
year — why should not we go away at the 
gay time, and so escape from all the 
bustle?" 

"It would be pleasant, but it is simply 
impossible, dearest mother. We must stay 
and endure/' 

" I remember — the lectures and the open- 
ing of the Institute. Of course you could 
not leave. I should not wish you to leave. 
I shall be so proud of you ! " 

" Poor mother ! " 

" Not poor in anything. Why do you 
say l poor mother ' ? " 

" Because your son is so different from 
anything you think him ! " 

By-and-by Mrs. Verbane went indoors. 
Then Wilfred, all weary to-night — heart, 
brain, and body — threw himself down on the 



BOND AND FREE. 131 

turf, " in half disgust of love, life, all things/' 
and gave himself up to long-banished tor- 
mentors. A few words of Lady Tregarther's 
had raised the unwelcome legion. 

Perhaps he passed half-an-hour in un- 
profitable repining and self-tormenting ; 
then, suddenly, he sprang erect, crying — 
" No more of this ! " and went home. A 
cup of tea taken, and half-an-hour spent 
with his mother, he went off to his night- 
class. He threw himself into his work 
even more completely than usual, and 
even more completely than usual he fettered 
the attention of his rough and grimy 
scholars. One or two of the more tender 
and sympathetic-natured among his pupils 
noticed his haggard looks — all felt the 
warmth and earnestness of his manner. 

By this time there were many men in 
Tyngelt and in the district round it who, 
but for shame, would have liked to press to 

k2 



132 BOND AND FREE. 

their lips the pale hand that was always 
busy for their good ; many women, too, 
who remembered Wilfred nightly in their 
prayers, as the deliverer of sons or hus- 
bands from a slavery worse than death. 

Wilfred kept his friends longer than 
usual to-night, and dismissed them with a 
heartier hand-shake. When — having put 
out the lights and locked up the place, 
ascended the steep street and gained the 
open moor — he was at last again alone ; 
he felt that the legion had been put to 
flight, that he had regained the mastery 
of himself, that he was free again — free to 
serve God, through his fellow-men, with 
the service of a free man. 



133 



CHAPTER X. 

"Twilight hath spirits passing pure and fair: 

But now there flitted by — as through the room 
Gather'd a summer-night's soft restful gloom — 
A radiant form with radiant-gleaming hair." 

On the day before that important first of 
August which he secretly dreaded, as a 
day that would strip something of its silence 
— as he feared, too, something also of its 
sanctity — from his work, Wilfred was forced 
to remain very late at Tyngelt Place. 

The luxuriant summer growth of the 
creepers climbing up the pillars of the 
Piazza darkened the room, so that it had 



134 BOND AND FREE. 

already become dim, while the daylight 
outside had hardly begun to fade into 
twilight. Hoping to finish his work before 
it should be necessary to have the lamp 
kindled, Wilfred wrote on eagerly. Close 
application and the heat of the day had 
rather fevered him ; yet when the evening 
wind rose and rustled among his papers, 
telling of tempting coolness on the moor 
and on the shore, he merely glanced up 
and out hurriedly, then bent again over 
his work. This glance, and the breath of 
the wind, assured him that all was sub- 
dued and fragrant beauty without; it 
showed him, between the crests of the 
limes, a strip of deep-hued water, and 
above them a sea of greenish-gold clear 
light, in which floated islands of amber 
and crimson. Postponing his enjoyment of 
all this beauty till his homeward ride, 
Wilfred worked on. He had just finished,, 



BOND AND FREE. 135 

and could no longer see, when a slight 
rustling at the window attracted his atten- 
tion. A lady, dressed in a pearly-coloured 
glistening silk which seemed to catch and 
imprison the last light of evening, stepped 
in to the room — then paused, and turned 
from the darkness within to gaze down the 
darkening lawn. 

All the windows of the west wing open- 
ing on the Piazza, this lady — one of Lady 
Tregarther's numerous and lately-arrived 
guests — had, of course, made a mistake 
among them. To warn her of her mistake 
and of his presence, Wilfred rustled his 
papers more than was needful as he put 
them away. At the noise, she turned : 
there was just light enough to enable her 
to discover that this was not the room 
in which she had expected to find herself; 
and that a gentleman was, or had been, 
writing at a table in its centre. 



136 BOND AND FREE. 

"I fear I have disturbed Mr. Tregarther 
in his library," she said. "I have made 
a mistake among so many windows. Where 
shall I find myself if I go through this 
room ? " 

"This door opens into a passage which 
leads into the corridor. If you will allow 
me, I will conduct you to the drawing- 
room." Wilfred's voice was unsteady as he 
spoke, and therefore had not its natural 
tone. 

He opened the door. The lady passed 
out of it, and he followed her. The pas- 
sage was lighter than the library had been. 
Accepting his offer of escort, the lady 
glanced at Wilfred: then it seemed as if 
the uncertain light made her afraid to 
advance, for she suddenly paused. 

" Will you take my arm ? The servants 
should have lighted the lamps before this. 
You may trust me as a safe guide, for I 



BOND AND FREE. 137 

am familiar with the house." His voice was 
more unsteady, and still less like his usual 
voice now : perhaps, too, there was some- 
thing cold and restraining in its constrained 
tone. 

Her hand resting lightly on his sleeve, 
the lady glided along the dim passages at 
Wilfred's side. There was no further inter- 
change of words. 

They reached the drawing-room door ; 
Wilfred opened it and bowed ; taking her 
hand from his arm, the lady, too, bowed, 
but without lifting her eyes to his face. 
At that moment a servant passed with a 
taper, and its light fell on them both ; it 
made no difference — he did not need that 
light, and she had not looked at him again. 
She passed into the room, and he returned 
to his dark retreat. 

Of mature age and grey-headed as he 
was, this encounter agitated Wilfred as no- 



138 BOND AND FREE. 

thing had agitated him for long, long years. 
And yet, thanks to Lady Tregarther, he 
was not quite unprepared for the chance of 
such a meeting. She had enumerated Mrs. 
and Miss Southern in the list of her expected 
guests. Throwing himself into a chair, he 
bowed his head down upon his arms, pres- 
sing his forehead upon the sleeve on which 
Felicia's fingers had rested. What other 
follies he committed shall not be revealed. 

Just as he had risen, and as he was 
groping about for his hat, Mr. Tregarther 
entered. 

" In darkness ! " he exclaimed, the light 
streaming in from the now kindled passage- 
lamp, showing him that Wilfred was not 
yet gone. 

"I am just about to leave — I am already 
very late," Wilfred answered. 

Then, as it occurred to him that Felicia, 
if she had not recognized him to-night 



BOND AND FREE. 139 

must certainly do so to-morrow, he said : — 
"A lady, whom I believe to have been 
Miss Southern, of Beech Holmes, passed 
through the room just now. It was nearly 
dark, but I do not think I could have 
been mistaken in her." 

" You know the Southerns, then ? " 
" The only son — he died some years 
ago — was a school-friend of mine. I have 
been a guest at Beech Holmes." 

"Your name has been mentioned several 
times within the last day or two. Mrs. 
Southern takes an interest in you from 
what she has heard of the good you are 
doing in the neighbourhood ; but she did 
not appear to remember the name." 

" I was known to Mrs. Southern under 
a different name — that of Mason." 

Having said just enough to shield 
Felicia from any unpleasant shock of sur- 
prise to-morrow, Wilfred passed to another 



140 BOND AND FREE. 

subject in so decided a manner, as to 
check any expression of surprise from Mr. 
Tregarther. The lamp had been lighted 
now, and Mr. Tregarther was burrowing 
among a heap of books which covered a 
side-table. 

" Here it is ! " he said, as he ap- 
proached Wilfred with a small, plainly- 
bound volume in his hand. "I want you 
to read this book — my nephew Templar 
has been talking about it, he can't say 
enough in its praise ; it seems that it treats 
of subjects in which you and I are es- 
pecially interested. We may get some 
useful hints from it, I fancy. Will you 
take this copy home with you ? I have 
a second.'' 

Wilfred recognised the book as his own 
— it was the volume of his essays which 
had just been published. 

l f It was my intention to beg your 



BOND AND FREE. 141 

acceptance of a copy of this very book," 
he said. " I wrote it." 

" You wrote these essays ! Dear me ! 
Allow me to congratulate you. My nephew, 
Templar, says that the book will make a 
great stir — be one of the successes of the 
day. I am half-offended that I hear of it, 
as yours, only in this casual way. Is this 
your first published work ? " 

« No— oh, no." 

"Are you likely to take to literature as 
a profession ? Am I likely to lose you ? 
You see how selfish I am." 

" I shall never again make literature 
my dependance as a bread-earning profes- 
sion. I did so formerly, and found that 
to do so was, as far as I am concerned, 
a mistake. Really, I must wish you good- 
night ; my mother will think I am lost." 

" You will not forget that we depend on 



142 BOND AND FREE. 

you and your mother to join us to-morrow 
evening — after the lecture ? 1 

"I believe that my mother has declined 
Lady Tregarther's invitation." 

" We cannot hear of that — come you 
must, both of you. Templar will be more 
than ever desirous of an introduction to 
you; and I am sure Mrs. Southern will 
be disappointed if she sees nothing of 

you." 

Wilfred muttered something barely intel- 
ligible — and, at last, escaped. Late as it 
was, he forgot to make haste; his horse 
picked its way at its own pace through 
the soft, warm darkness of the summer 
night. 

"Mother, after all, we must join the 
dinner-party to-morrow," Wilfred said, in 
the course of the evening. 

" Must we ? You said that you should 



BOND AND FREE. 143 

be too tired — I believe the truth was that 
you thought I did not wish to go — I told 
Lady Tregarther that we should not go." 

" What have you fit to wear ? You 
know quite well that I am proud of you. 
I want you to look your best." 

" I have the dress I wore the day we 
went with Miss Narpenth to the Opera — 
black velvet, and old lace that was my 
mother's." 

"That will do beautifully." 

" The make is old-fashioned." 

"That is no matter — you will look 
lovely." 

"I am afraid that to-morrow will weary 
you and try you dreadfully, my son." 

"I shall survive it. I did not expect 
all this fuss and display. Still it is to be 
a general holiday, and will, I hope, be a 
happy day for hundreds. I think that you, 
mother, will have no sinecure — with the 



144 BOND AND FREE. 

monster tea-party to manage in the after- 
noon, my lecture to listen to, to dress for 
Tyngelt Place and dine there — all this 
after the ceremonial of the morning. 
Heigho ! it will be a hard day's work ! " 



145 



CHAPTER XL 

" A man of sensitive temperament, working for others 
in singleness of heart, has often more to endure from the 
way of the world's recognition of his work, than from 
its neglect of it." 

The great day was come — the day of the 
opening of the Tyngelt Mechanics' Institute. 
From the platform erected at one end 
of the lecture-hall various great men of 
the neighbourhood addressed the hundreds 
assembled in the body of the room. The 
platform and the whole Hall were tastefully 
adorned — with gorse and heather from the 
moor, ferns from the lanes, evergreens from 
the Tyngelt Place shrubberies, cabbage-roses 

VOL. III. L 



146 BOND AND FREE. 

and a profusion of other homely flowers 
from the cottage-gardens round. The Hall 
was lofty, well proportioned, spacious and 
airy ; spotlessly fresh and simply decorated : 
the effect was good, even grand — especially 
to those who, from the elevation of the plat- 
form, commanded the whole sea of eager 
faces uplifted towards the speakers. Wil- 
fred was one of these. 

The two front rows of seats were occu- 
pied by Lady Tregarther's guests. Of these 
Wilfred only saw his own mother, her face 
pale from excitement ; Felicia Southern, with 
a ray of subdued light slanting on her 
bright hair; a gentleman, who sat between 
her and her mother, and was devotedly 
attentive to them both; and that mother. 
The spot where they sat was the one 
spot towards which he tried not to look ; 
yet their faces were the only faces that 
he saw from among those front ranks. 



BOND AND FREE. 147 

The part Wilfred had to play was the 
difficult one of acting as mouth-piece for 
the working men — returning thanks for 
them to Mr. Tregarther. This he rose to 
do towards the conclusion of the pro- 
ceedings. 

At first he spoke with painful effort. 
Felicia's face, at which he did not look, 
seemed to waver before his eyes and confuse 
him ; but as he went on, he succeeded in 
concentrating his attention upon his subject 
— in keeping his bodily eye and his mind's 
eye upon those eager-faced miners — in iden- 
tifying himself with them, and speaking 
right out from their hearts. The manner 
in which he expressed their gratitude was 
noble and simple ; without a touch of syco- 
phancy or servility. He dwelt upon the 
conviction entertained by the more thought- 
ful among them, that employers would never 
have cause to regret anything done to 

l2 



148 BOND AND FREE. 

elevate the mental condition of the em- 
ployed — as the result of such efforts would 
always be, to win them higher service from 
higher motives. He believed, he said, that 
it was only when the working-man picked 
up half-knowledge and half-truth in spite 
of efforts made by his employer to keep 
him down and keep him back, that this 
distorted truth and imperfect knowledge 
puffed him. up with arrogance, led him to 
take a defiant attitude, and to set himself 
hand-to-hand against his employer, whom 
he then regarded as his oppressor. 

The posture Wilfred assumed for those 
for whom he spoke was at once dignified 
and appreciative — dignified in its recog- 
nition of their claims, and appreciative of 
the signal advantages now offered them. 

While he spoke every eye was fixed 
on his calm, white face, and deep-set, 
shining eyes. Till he had finished, and had 



BOND AND FREE. 149 

disappeared among the other gentlemen 
who occupied the platform, scarcely a 
breath seemed to be drawn in the room ; 
then there was a burst of such deafening 
applause as made fine ladies turn pale and 
red by turns. 

This applause ceased suddenly : it was 
followed by a stir and hum in the back 
of the room — then by an expectant hush. A 
stalwart miner mounted upon a form, and 
his stentorian voice broke the silence. 

He spoke right to Wilfred, who, gently 
pushed to the front of the platform by his 
companions, that the giant might have him 
in his sight, stood there motionless and 
colourless, leaning on the rail. 

Just as he would have spoken to him 
had they two been alone, the miner now 
spoke to his schoolmaster ; every word 
was expressive of heartfelt gratitude, and 
of an esteem amounting to veneration. 



150 BOND AND FREE. 

The words were few and strong ; they were 
almost too many and too strong for 
Wilfred. 

A second man rose up from among the 
crowd of workers, and addressing "Lords, 
Ladies, and Gentlemen," made a brief state- 
ment of the nature and extent of the work 
that had been done during the last five 
years by Mr. Verbane and " the good 
lady, his mother." 

The proceedings had taken an unex- 
pected and most embarrassing turn. The 
flood-gates once opened, there was no know- 
ing, as Lady Tregarther said, where this sort 
of thing would stop. 

Wilfred's eyes, a gesture of his hand, 
a few words from him expressive of the 
painful humiliation of over-appreciation, his 
paleness, and the advice given by some 
woman in the crowd — 

" Don't ! he can't abear this public-like 



BOND AND FREE. 151 

talk — say the rest quiet to him another 
time." 

This, and Wilfred's disappearance from 
the platform and from the room, brought 
the proceedings to a close. 

The next thing in the order of the 
day's festivities was the clearance of the 
Hall, preparatory to the setting out of the 
tables for the monster dinner : this was 
done, and the good and substantial cheer 
brought in and arranged in a wonderfully 
short space of time. 

As Mr. Tregarther's deputy, Wilfred had 
been obliged to promise to take the head 
of the long centre table, while the fore- 
man of the works presided at its foot ; 
so there was little rest or quiet for him 
this day. 

The enjoyment round him was, however, 
so real, the mirth so genial that, after 
the first half-hour, he found it easy to 



152 BOND AND FREE. 

shake off the oppression of personal feel- 
ing — to throw himself into the spirit of 
the thing, to rejoice heartily with those who 
rejoiced. 

The dinner was followed up by coffee in 
the news-room, and games on the piece of 
moor which had been enclosed within the 
precincts of the Institute, and which was to 
be used as a public play-ground. 

The Hall was only cleared of the men, 
and of the dinner-cloths, plates, and glasses, 
to be prepared for the women's tea-drinking. 
Wilfred went home to fetch his mother, 
who was to superintend this branch of the 
festivities ; having seen her deep in the 
mysteries of tea-making he returned to the 
cottage, and tried to look over his lecture. 
He found it impossible to fix his attention; 
besides, he already almost knew it by heart ; 
so, abandoning the vain attempt, he threw 
himself down in a shady spot of the garden, 



BOND AND FREE. 153 

and indulged in the rest of day-dreaming. 
But on this busy day there was but brief 
space for any such indulgence. The dinner 
had commenced at twelve, the tea at three ; 
the lecture was to be delivered at five, in 
order to meet the dining-time at Tyngelt 
Place, which was to-day an hour later 
than usual. 

After the excitement of the morning, the 
mere delivering of a carefully-prepared lec- 
ture seemed a tame and ordinary affair; yet 
Wilfred was not quite calm about it. He 
stood among a knot of his big pupils, and 
watched the carriages drive up from Tyngelt 
Place and the occupants descend, till, hav- 
ing seen Felicia walk up the room with the 
same gentleman who had been seated by her 
side in the morning, and whom he knew to 
be Mr. Tregarther's nephew, Mr. Templar, 
he saw no more. Felicia had passed close 
to him and had not seen him, appearing 



154 BOND AND FREE. 

to be deeply interested in what her com- 
panion was saying to her. 

A few moments after, he mounted the 
platform with his written lecture in his 
hand ; he was introduced to his audience — 
a very unnecessary proceeding — by a Lord 
somebody, who made a little speech, some- 
thing in which excited laughter, something 
else applause. All this Wilfred heard, as if 
he were hearing things in a dream : the 
sound of his own voice was the first thing 
that roused him to the reality of all around 
him. 

His lecture occupied little more than an 
hour. 

" Admirable !•" " masterly ! " and other 
flattering epithets were lavishly used by the 
aristocracy of the front ranks. Wilfred 
himself was almost satisfied ; for, attentively 
watching his own peculiar audience, the 
miners, he had seen many faces brighten 



BOND AND FREE. 155 

to intelligent interest — very few show signs 
of weariness. Mr. Tregarther, feeling a sort 
of ownership in his secretary, triumphed 
in his triumph ; his face expressed the most 
beaming satisfaction as he pressed Wilfred's 
hand at the close of the lecture. One of 
the Tyngelt carriages was to take Wilfred 
and his mother to the cottage, and to wait 
for them while they made their toilettes 
for the dinner at Tyngelt Place — so they 
escaped quickly from the crowded Hall. 

"It has been almost too much, my son!" 
Mrs. Yerbane said. " I wish all were over 
and we could have a long drive through 
this delicious quiet and coolness! Still, I 
want to see more of your friends — of Mrs. 
and Miss Southern." 

"Why that sigh, mother ?" 

" I was only thinking that the time may 
come — I often pray that it may come — when 



156 BOND AND FREE. 

your old mother will not be the first in 
your heart. I did not mean to sigh." 

" There is no first and last in pure love, 
mother. You will, I think, have me all, 
and always. At all events, I love you for 
ever. We will never part — never ! " 

As Wilfred spoke, his thoughts flew back 
over many years, and, landing him on the 
terrace at Beech Holmes, showed him the 
child Felicia clinging to her mother, and 
declaring, with soft steadfastness, that she 
would never leave her- — never! 



157 



CHAPTER XII. 

" We meet — after a lapse of changeful years ; 
We ask, with heart-beats, mingling hopes and fears, 
If time has dimmed the memory of those tears — 
Some bitter-sweet, some wrung from purest pain — 
We wept for Love, sweet Love, then newly slain, 
Do we ask, too, can dead Love live again ? " 

Even had not her idol been dashed from its 
pedestal, and her hero lowered lower than 
the common level, it is possible that the 
glamour of intellectual gifts and graces, 
and the charm of chivalric gentleness, which 
had combined to captivate the child, and 
the child-hearted girl, would not have suf- 
ficed to hold captive the thoughtful, true- 



158 BOND AND FREE. 

natured woman. What subtle avenues to 
the woman's heart were now, however, 
opened for that man, of whose good deeds, 
good influence, unflinching energy, and noble 
self-devotion, facts, and public opinion, agreed 
to speak eloquently ! Unless some other love 
had replaced the early reverent worship in 
Felicia's heart, was not the hero of the 
girl's fancy likely to become the object of 
the woman's love? 

A faithful and tender woman's heart can 
never quite close itself against the power 
and charm of early associations : it never 
forgets. It is only the hardened woman 
of the world who can meet the lover of 
her girlhood, or the object of her girlish 
love, and not be conscious of a quicker 
pulse, a stronger heart-beat, or a varying 
heat and colour on her cheek: even such 
are not always proof against the weapons of 
memory. 



BOND AND FREE. 159 

Mr. and Mrs. Verbane entered the drawing- 
room at Tyngelt Place after all the other 
guests had assembled there; and when the 
room, shaded by the creeper-screened Piazza, 
was already getting dusky. 

The first glance showed Wilfred that Mrs. 
Southern sat near a distant window — that 
Felicia stood behind her chair in the shadow 
of the curtains. 

After having been subject to many greet- 
ings, introductions, and congratulations, 
Wilfred found himself at last, his mother 
still leaning on his arm, approaching that 
window. Mrs. Southern rose, outstretch- 
ing both her hands, her bright eyes shining 
affectionately into his. 

"My dear boy, my dear boy's friend, 
I am proud of you — you have made an 
old woman's heart swell with joy ! " she 
said, soitly. 

Mrs. Southern was lame now ; having 



160 BOND AND FREE. 

risen to greet Wilfred, she sat down again, 
making room for his mother beside her. 
Felicia advanced a little, holding her hand 
out to Wilfred. In the obscure corner in 
which she stood, she had looked like a 
moon-lighted mist ; but the hand was the 
soft, warm hand of a mortal maiden, and 
its singularly firm and fast, though gentle, 
clasp was the clasp of Felicia Southern. 

Before Wilfred and Felicia had exchanged 
a single sentence, Mr. Tregarther brought 
his nephew up to the group to introduce 
him to Wilfred and to Mrs. Verbane. 
Just at this moment dinner was announced 
as served. Mr. Templar offered one arm 
to Mrs. Verbane, the other to Felicia, while 
Wilfred's arm was taken by Mrs. Southern. 
At table Wilfred found himself seated be- 
tween the mother and daughter. 

Mr. Templar vainly tried to monopolize 
Felicia's attention, the responsibility of 



BOND AND FREE. 161 

amusing Mrs. Yerbane having been taken 
off his hands by her neighbour on the 
other side. Felicia was interested in the 
conversation carried on between her mother 
and Wilfred, and was natural enough to 
show that she was interested — so much 
interested, that only the great sweetness 
of her disposition enabled her to give 
heed enough to Mr. Templar's almost un- 
interrupted flow of clever talk, to prevent 
his being wounded by her want of appre- 
ciation. 

And Wilfred? Felicia was near him 
— her full, soft dress touched him ; more 
than once he purposely and reverently 
laid his hand on it. More than once he 
found an opportunity of addressing her ; 
when she turned and answered him — the 
low-toned sweetness of her voice — the happy 
serenity of her eyes, so strangely touched 
and thrilled him, that he felt it almost 

VOL. III. M 



162 BOND AND FREE. 

needful to shrink back from her, that the 
joy these woke in him might not too plainly 
shine from his face into hers. 

Turning towards him and her mother, 
Felicia seemed the same Felicia as of old, 
with the old child-like grace and lowly 
candour in every look and word ; for 
others — even for Mr. Templar — Wilfred 
noticed that she was different — for others 
there was something of stateliness in her 
sweet grace, and of grave reticence in her 
truthful candour. 

" I do not say ' all or nothing/ " 
Wilfred thought, noticing this. " I will 
thank God for any place in that dear 
heart. If, as a woman, her love is given 
elsewhere, I will be grateful even for 
that pitying affection she gave me as a 
child." 

The long and ceremonious dinner did not 
seem long to Wilfred. Sitting very near 



BOND AND FREE. 163 

a window, he escaped by it soon after 
the ladies left the table. 

It was a softly-brilliant night, the 
moon near the full : many of the younger 
ladies were grouped on the dewless 
lawn or pacing up and down the Piazza. 
Felicia was not amongst them. 

Entering the nearly empty drawing- 
room, Wilfred saw his mother and Mrs. 
Southern seated close together in a far 
corner of it, talking earnestly — while Felicia, 
resting her cheek on her mother's shoulder, 
kept her eyes fixed on Mrs. Verbane's 
face. He retreated unseen ; passing along 
the Piazza, he found the library window 
open and the room unlighted ; here he 
lingered, enjoying an interval of rest 
and of pleasant thought, till he heard 
Mr. Tregarther's voice asking — 

" Where is Mr. Verbane ? Has anyone 
seen Mr. Verbane ? " 

M 2 



1 64 BOND AND FREE. 

It was not till just as they were about 
to leave that Wilfred was able to ap- 
proach Mrs. Southern again. 

" I have been asking your mother to 
let us visit you to-morrow," she said. 
" We stay here only a day or two longer, 
and I want to see more of you both. 
You must both visit Beech Holmes soon." 

" What time will you come to us? I do 
not wish to run any risk of being out. It 
is very kind of you to think of coming." 

u We will come in the afternoon. We 
are going to have tea with you, and 
remain till dusk. I have settled it all 
with your mother." 

" Thank you very much." 

" You ought to go home now. It 
must have been such a tiring, trying 
day ! Your mother is looking for you, I 
see — so good night — good-bye till to- 
morrow " 



BOND AND FREE. 165 

Wilfred took his leave, only half satis- 
fied, for he could not see Felicia to say 
good night to her. 



166 



CHAPTER XIII. 

" Each liveth in the other ; and yet see 

With careful reverence how they stand apart ! 
Each shrouding from the other a warm heart, 
Beating with true love and pure constancy." 

That morning Wilfred went early to Tyn- 
gelt Place, and proceeded straightway to 
the library. Allowing himself a few mo- 
ments' indulgence before he began work, 
he walked to the window to look out — 
a light shawl and a book were on a 
chair on the lawn and near them, upon 
the grass, lay a little glove. After a hasty 
and guilty glance round, Wilfred stepped 



BOND AND FREE. 167 

from the window, crossed the Piazza, stooped, 
and possessed himself of that little glove — 
never doubting to whom it belonged. 

He retreated into the room with his 
treasure, seated himself at his writing-table, 
and — what he might have done with the 
little glove it is impossible to say, for a 
step without disturbed him. Obeying a 
hasty impulse, he thrust it within his 
waistcoat ; his hand was free only just in 
time to return the cordial grasp of Mr. 
Templar's. 

" I beg your pardon for my hasty en- 
trance. I did not know you came so 
early. I am looking for Miss Southern's 
glove. I thought she might, by chance, 
have passed through this way and dropped 
it." 

Wilfred's cheek burnt, as, when left alone, 
he busied himself among his papers ; he 
felt that a boyish and foolish action had 



168 BOND AND FREE. 

betrayed him into an absurd position — and 
he was inclined to think that young Tem- 
plar half-suspected him of the theft of 
which he had been guilty. It was even 
possible that he might have seen its com- 
mission. He resolved to punish himself by 
returning the precious glove to its owner 
when he should find opportunity, with any 
such matter-of-fact excuse, or apology, as 
should not be untrue. 

Mr. Tregarther appeared by-and-by, and 
pressed Wilfred to remain to luncheon ; 
but he resolutely declined to do so, and, 
his business transacted, rode quickly home, 
ill-pleased with himself. 

When the early dinner at Seafern Cot- 
tage was over, Wilfred busied himself with 
womanishly minute cares — striving to make 
his home look its best and prettiest. 

His mother had already done her part : 
the muslin-curtains in the little parlour 



BOND AND FREE. 169 

were white as snow, and the garden was 
scrupulously neat. The roses in the cot- 
tage-garden thrived better than those in 
the rosary at Tyngelt Place. Mrs. Verbane 
had tilled several glasses with them, so 
that the room was full of their fragrance. 
Wilfred arranged and re-arranged books, 
pictures and statuettes, till, his mother re- 
proving him for his fidgetiness, he retired 
to his own peculiar den, and tried to 
occupy himself till his guests should arrive. 

Lady Tregarther herself accompanied them, 
but she did not alight. The first sound of 
wheels brought Wilfred to the garden-gate, 
ready to help Mrs. Southern to step out of 
the carriage, and to ascend the garden-path. 
- At the house-door Mrs. Verbane met 
and warmly welcomed her dear son's kind 
friends. Tears of pleasure rose to her eyes 
as she did so. 

Felicia was the quietest of the party, 



170 BOND AND FREE. 

and she looked very pale to-day : the 
face of Wilfred's mother seemed to have 
a powerful attraction for her — her eyes 
sought it again and again, expressing — 
those sweet and truthful eyes ! — tender 
interest and admiration ; and as she looked, 
she forgot to talk. 

"It is pleasant to escape from one of 
the long, formal dinners of Tyngelt Place ! " 
Mrs. Southern remarked, when, by-and-by, 
the neat damsel began to bring in the tea. 
" We always dine early at Beech Holmes, 
and Mr. Tregarther's dinners tire me very 
much.'' 

" Our dinner-time is rather uncertain, " 
Mrs. Verbane said. " In one way or another 
Wilfred works so hard ! — now-and-then he 
does not come home to dinner at all. How 
do you think he looks, Mrs. Southern ? 
Sometimes I am afraid that he is wearing 
himself out." 



BOND AND FREE. 171 

"I am middle-aged and gray -haired, you 
see, Mrs. Southern," Wilfred interposed, 
trying to laugh off the embarrassment he 
felt; " and yet, would you believe it? this 
mother of mine — who by-the-by works twice 
as hard as I do — pets me and cares for 
me as if " 

"As if you were her only son, and a 
right good son ! " Mrs. Southern said, 
warmly. 

After tea, Mrs. Yerbane wished to take 
Mrs. Southern over the house, and then they 
all meant to mount as far as the green hill- 
terrace. 

Felicia and Wilfred, both leaning in the 
open window, found themselves left alone. 
Wilfred's heart beat strangely : he remem- 
bered the glove and the promise he had 
made to himself — but it seemed very difficult 
to keep this promise. 

The glove was nevertheless presently pro- 
duced, with the words — 



172 BOND AND FREE. 

" This is yours, I think, Miss South- 
ern ?" 

The grave question sounded very abrupt, 
and startled a deep colour into Felicia's 
face. 

" I must make confession of how I be- 
came possessed of it." Wilfred added, " I 
had picked it up on the lawn and I was 
contemplating its minuteness in the library 
when Mr. Templar came in search of it. 
Perhaps I was afraid of being suspected of 
a romantic theft, quite unbecoming my age 
and my position. Obeying a hasty impulse, 
I concealed the glove. I hope that you 
have not been inconvenienced by its loss." 

" Not at all, thank you." 

Felicia spoke sweetly, but with involun- 
tary stateliness. She felt unreasonably 
chilled by the manner of her old friend; 
so close together — standing side by side — 
looking from one window — each felt the 



BOND AND FREE. 173 

other to be further off than when hundreds 
of miles had been between them. They 
were glad when the two mothers returned 
ready equipped for walking. Mrs. South- 
ern went first, leaning on Wilfred's arm ; 
Mrs. Yerbane and Felicia followed, very 
slowly, for they were intently interested, both 
in each other, and in that of which they 
spoke. Wilfred's work among the people 
round Tyngelt — the veneration with which 
he was looked upon — Wilfred's sweetness at 
home, and his loving care of his mother — 
these formed the chief topics of Mrs. 
Verbane's talk. 

When, reaching the hill-terrace, they all 
sat down, Mrs. Southern put her hand in 
Mrs. Verbane's. 

Wilfred was near Felicia ; he watched 
her ungloved fingers toying with the grass — 
with a restlessness of gesture that he had 
never noticed in her formerly — till he longed 



174 BOND AND FREE. 

to take the hand in his and hold it still — 
longed with an intensity of longing that be- 
came almost uncontrollable. How happily, 
how quietly, might the little hand then have 
entered his and rested there ! 

Withdrawing presently from the dangerous 
near neighbourhood of that desired hand, 
Wilfred passed a little way round the hill, 
and threw himself down upon the turf, where, 
unseen himself, he could still see Felicia. 

The evening light shining full on the clear 
oval of her partly-averted face showed him 
that she was changed — more changed than 
he had thought. She still looked " die 
Schone Engel-mild," but the mildness of her 
face was more grave — her smile was as lovely 
as ever, but less frequent ; it died away 
more quickly, and left, as it found, an ex- 
pression of confirmed stedfastness upon the 
delicate sweetness of her mouth. One felt 
more sure than formerly that the serenity of 



BOND AND FREE. 175 

her face signified more than the mere fine 
weather serenity of an untried spirit : that 
it signified power of suffering patiently and 
submitting faithfully — self-restraint so ha- 
bitual, that it had ceased to need effort — self- 
denial so spontaneous that it was unconscious. 
He felt even more sure than formerly, that 
the face betokened depth and strength as 
well as sweetness of feeling — that its owner's 
love might be " difficile a acquerir," and 
would be " plus difficile a perdre." 

As Wilfred gazed, he murmured to him- 
self:— 

" In angeborner stiller Glorie, 
Mit sorgenlosem Leichtsinn, mit des Anstands 
Schnelmassiger Berechnung unbekannt, 
Gleich feme von Verwegenheit und Furcht 
Mit festem Heldenschritte wandelt sie 
Die schmale Mittelbahn des Schicklichen." 

He thought that Felicia's face would 
have served as fittest model for that of a 
Madonna, the highest impersonation of calm 



176 BOND AND FREE. 

power and love ; or for that of some virgin 
martyr triumphing by power of faith and by 
the strength of meekness over the weak- 
ness of the flesh, and the terrors and tempta- 
tions of the devil. 

He thought these things and many more 
as he gazed at Felicia, till the overpower- 
ing force of the return tide of his love, 
swelling high and strong and threatening 
to sweep away many of the newly-set 
landmarks on the firm ground of tempta- 
tions overcome, alarmed him. 

"It is not safe," he said, aloud ; "I 
am not fit or free to love her." 

He averted his face, and, with his eyes 
fixed seawards, looking into infinity, he 
wrestled with his own soul. 

" The old leaven of passionate selfish- 
ness is in me yet," he said. " If not, why 
can I not be happy, believing her heart to be 
given to another, whom all men would count 



BOND AND FREE. 177 

worthy ? What can I offer her ? How dare 
I think of desiring her love? How fair 
she is, and how spotlessly pure has been 
the book of her life always ! It is true 
that she loved me once, and that her nature 
is constant and faithful; but she was as 
a child, and I was not what she thought 
me. She can only love what she believes 
to be all noble and worthy — this she 
knows I am not. I cannot help myself 
from loving her - — I must love her for 
ever; but it must be without hope or de- 
sire of winning love from her; with the 
wish that she should give her life to one 
younger, worthier-— all ways more fit to 
be loved by her/' 

After awhile Wilfred rose and rejoined the 
three ladies. 

"Mother, do you think it is prudent of 
you to sit still so long? Is it not too cool 
here for Mrs. Southern ?" 

VOL. III. N 



178 BOND AND FREE. 

" Wondrous prudent are the young peo- 
ple of this generation ; my girl has been 
warning me and shawling me, and now 
here comes your boy ! " 

Mrs. Southern held her hand out to 
Wilfred as she spoke, that he might help 
her to rise ; but she took Mrs. Verbane's 
arm to assist her in descending the hill-side, 
and left " the young people " to follow. 

It was not till Felicia had slipped on 
the short dry turf, and had nearly fallen, 
that Wilfred offered her his arm. Without 
a word she put her hand within it. 

They walked on silently for some time ; 
till Wilfred, oppressed by this silence, made 
some laughing comment on it, and added, 
what he felt, immediately he had spoken the 
words, had better not have been added— 

" We used to find plenty to talk 
about." 

" We used to know each other well ; 



BOND AND FREE. 179 

Mr. Verbane makes me feel that he is quite 
a stranger." 

Felicia said this quietly ; but when she 
had spoken her face crimsoned, to turn very 
white afterwards. 

A flood of thought and feeling rushed 
to Wilfred's lips, demanding expression : 
such things as he had schooled himself to 
believe that he must not even think almost 
forced themselves into speech. Commanding 
himself by a great effort, not even pre- 
suming to press nearer to him the hand 
that rested on his arm, he said — 

" I think I ought to desire that all 
whom I wish should think well of me 
should meet Wilfred Yerbane as a stranger, 
not associating him in any way with Wil- 
fred Mason." 

They had reached the garden-gate. Fe- 
licia, withdrawing her hand from Wilfred's 
arm, bent her face over a white rose- 

n2 



180 BOND AND FREE. 

bush, which, covered with blossoms, looked 
very lovely in the twilight. Perhaps she 
concealed a quick-risen tear as she did 
this, and as she called her mother's attention 
to the beauty of the flowers. 

Promising his mother that he would be 
absent a shorter time than usual, Wilfred 
set off for the Institute, while the ladies went 
into the house to rest. 

"I should like you to see him in the 
midst of his big rough pupils ! " his mother 
said. " He looks so slight and weak among 
them, and yet a word or look of his con- 
trols and subdues them completely." 

"From what I saw and heard yester- 
day, I can form an idea of the nature and 
of the extent of his influence ! My own poor 
boy loved him, and always prophesied good 
and great things for him. I think that 
watching his friend's life now must be one 
of Herbert's joys where he is." 



BOND AND FREE. 181 

To this, and much more kindred talk — all 
sounding praise of Wilfred — Felicia listened 
with silent shining eyes. After giving a 
brief outline of her life to Mrs. Southern, 
Mrs Verbane said — 

"You can judge how strange it seems to 
me that I should be blest with such a son, 
while you ." 

Here she felt her hand taken in Felicia's, 
raised to Felicia's lips : she added — 

"But you have the dearest and sweetest 
of daughters " — and kissed the girl's forehead 
fondly. 

Wilfred returned about half-past nine, and 
then the supper of fruit and simple country 
dainties was brought in. The carriage from 
Tyngelt Place came at ten. Wilfred had 
his horse brought round, that he might 
escort the ladies across the moor. 

Mrs. Southern did not part from Mrs. 
Verbane without having extracted a pro- 



182 BOND AND FREE. 

mise from her that, nothing unforseen inter- 
vening, she and Wilfred would visit Beech 
Holmes at Christmas. 

When they had started Mrs. Southern 
told Wilfred that she was sleepy, and that 
he must ride beside Felicia and talk to her. 
He obeyed the former part of the com- 
mand ; but again they were both very silent. 
The dewy moor and the glittering sea looked 
dreamily beautiful in the moonlight: it was 
almost as bright as day. They both seemed 
to find occupation enough in looking at the 
moor and the sea. 

Leaning one hand on the carriage-door — 
as he called Felicia's attention to a line of 
ships whose sails were shining snow-white in 
the distance — bending down very near her, 
as he showed her in what direction to look- 
Wilfred saw that tears hung on the lashes 
of the true eyes that were raised to his 
face before they followed the direction of 



BOND AND FREE. 183 

his finger. He fancied that, as lie ad- 
dressed her as Miss Southern, the eyes 
appealed from his formal manner, with pain 
and tenderness mingling in them. As he 
fancied this, and was struck by the un- 
changed child-likeness of her look at the 
moment her eyes met his, his heart beat 
thick and fast — he was tempted — how sorely 
those only can know who have experienced 
like temptation — to breathe a few tender 
words, and to press his lips on the white 
brow which bent above those dear, tearful 
eyes. 

He moved his hand from the door — he 
drew himself further from the carriage — 
he forced himself to talk on trifling unin- 
teresting topics — and when the often-coveted 
hand met his in leave-taking, he did not 
hold it so long, or press it so warmly, as 
he did that of Mrs. Southern. Nothing 
could have been calmer than his face and 



184 BOND AND FREE. 

his manner — how cold, too, both seemed 
only Felicia's timid, shivering heart could 
have told. 

Poor Felicia! Poor Wilfred! Yet per- 
haps Edgar Templar, who happened to be 
strolling about before the house when the 
carriage drove up the avenue, and who eagerly 
advanced to assist the ladies to alight — 
Edgar Templar, whom Wilfred envied just 
then with a bitter, burning envy — was far 
more to be pitied than either Wilfred or 
Felicia. 

When the hall-door had closed upon his 
friends, Wilfred dashed down the avenue at 
the maddest of paces, unheeding its fairy- 
like moonlighted beauty. But when he 
found himself near home, he checked his 
horse to the slowest of slow walks. 

The day had been one of self-restraint; 
now he let imagination run riot with loose 
rein. 



BOND AND FREE. 1 85 

" Felicia ! Felicia ! my heart seems to tell 
me that one day yet, in spite of all, you 
will be my Felicia ! If I were but worthy 
— if my life had but been pure and true — 
— difference of fortune, of position, should 
weigh for nothing, and I would try and 
win her. What grieved her to-night ? 
What brought tears to her sweet eyes ? I 
would give much to know — I never shall 
know. Eeason says, she never can be my 
Felicia ! " 



186 



CHAPTER XIV. 

"O well for him whose will is strong! 
He suffers, but he will not suffer long; 
He suffers, but he cannot suffer wrong." 

One heavy afternoon, late in the autumn, 
Wilfred came home from Tyngelt Place 
unfit for anything but to lie on the sofa 
and be waited on. 

There had been a long struggle going 
on within him. It seemed that he had 
won the victory over his spirit at the ex- 
pense of his body. The two months that 
had passed since Felicia and her mother 
had left Tyngelt, had been two months of 



BOND AND FREE. 187 

constant, unvaried work : not work with 
the will, either, but against the will — 
against a demon of listless despondency 
that had taken possession of him, and 
which, he thought, was only to be starved 
out by finding nothing within him on which 
to prey. So he had allowed himself no 
idle moments, but had worked on till he 
was well nigh worn out : at Mr. Tregarther's 
work — at his own private literary work — 
at his good work at the Institute, and 
among the people. In doing thus he had 
over-shot his mark, overstrained his physi- 
cal power, and now he fell prostrate ; not, 
however, as one vanquished, but as the 
vanquisher, whose strength fails him in the 
moment of victory. The wasted face on 
which his mother's sorrowful eyes were 
fixed was a quiet and not unhappy face. 

"I am just tired, mother — too tired to 
eat or sleep; that is all. I am quite 



188 BOND AND FREE. 

content to be here to-night, and to do nothing 
but watch the fire and your nimble fingers 
— quite content and quite happy. I have 
good news for you, too, mother. Mr. Tre- 
garther is going to remain abroad some 
time longer yet, and he wishes me to take 
a complete holiday. Here is his letter : he 
generously encloses a cheque, which he re- 
quests me to spend in travelling. What do 
you say? Shall we leave Tyngelt to itself 
for a few weeks ? " 

"I meant to insist on your doing so — 
otherwise you will get no rest. Your holi- 
days try you more than your working-days. 
Young Hind is quite capable of doing a 
great part of your work, and I am con- 
vinced that you absolutely require rest and 
change. It is your duty just now to 
consider your own health before anything 
— for my sake, and the sake of the work 
you may yet do." 



BOND AND FREE. 189 

"I believe I shall be the better for rest 
and change; though indeed, mother, there's 
not much the matter. When shall we 
start ? Where shall we go ? " 

There followed a consultation, Wilfred's 

part of which was conducted somewhat 

languidly. 

* * # # * 

A heavy thunder-storm, and a deluge of 
drenching rain, detained Wilfred and his 
mother at a small road-side inn, in the 
heart of the most mountainous district of 
North Wales. 

A gentleman and lady staying there had 
monopolized the best accommodation the 
house afforded, and the travellers could be 
but uncomfortably lodged. 

"I am sorry I can do no better for 
you, mother/' Wilfred said, as they sat 
down to a scanty dinner in the small 
public room, which was redolent of stale 



190 BOND AND FREE. 

tobacco, and damp coats and umbrellas ; 
and the window of which at present seemed 
to command a view of nothing but a 
muddy road. " The worst of it is that I 
hear that, having missed the coach this 
afternoon, we shall be obliged to stay here 
till Monday." 

"I do think it is going to clear," Mrs. 
Yerbane said, with a hopeful glance out- 
wards ; " if it is fine we shall not much 
care what our indoor accommodation is. 
I prophesy that, before sunset, the weather 
will be lovely." 

Mrs. Verbane was right. As the clouds 
rolled away from the sky, and the mist 
from the hills, they found that the window 
of the despised little room commanded a 
grand prospect. The sun came out, too, 
shedding a parting smile on the drenched 
landscape, and promising a fine day to- 
morrow. The gravel outside the inn door 



BOND AND FREE. 191 

presently crunched beneath the feet of a 
pony, and Mrs. Verbane rose, saying, as 
she went to the window : — 

" We shall see our enemies now — the 
people who have monopolized the best of 
everything ; they are going out, I think." 

Wilfred followed his mother. They saw a 
a dapper little groom holding a beautiful 
pony ; then a smart lady's-maid came out on 
tip-toe, carrying a plaid which she arranged 
upon the saddle. A gentleman — a fine, tall 
fellow, in a tourist's travelling suit, whose 
face they could not see — next appeared upon 
the scene, carefully examined the pony's 
equipments, and re-arranged the plaid. 

At last, after a considerable delay — during 
which the gentleman glanced into the house, 
down the valley and at his sketching appara- 
tus alternately — a lady appeared. The gentle- 
man lifted her into the saddle, and the maid 
arranged the folds of her habit, while the 



192 BOND AND FREE. 

groom still stood at the pony's head. The 
drooping feathers and lace of the lady's hat 
concealed her features, though her face was 
turned towards the inn, till, just as she 
was starting, she raised her head, and 
passed the window in review. 

A sudden clutch of the rein, a sharp 
touch of the whip, and the pony, knocking 
down the groom, darted off at mad speed. 
The maid screamed, the groom picked him- 
self up, and his master — whose face Wil- 
fred and his mother saw now, and saw 
how white it had turned - — dashed after 
the runaway. 

After some moments the lady rode 
quietly by the window, the gentleman 
walking at her side. He picked up the 
sketch-book he had thrown down when 
he ran after the pony, and they pro- 
ceeded in the opposite direction to that 
they had at first taken. 



BOND AND FREE. 193 

"She recognized you, Wilfred, but she 
did not see me. Her husband did not see 
either of us — he was too much engrossed 
by his cares for her," Mrs. Verbane said, 
turning to look at Wilfred. 

While his mother went for her bonnet 
and cloak Wilfred remained at the window 
lost in thought. 

"Was Eleanour happy? — did she love 
her husband ? " he wondered. He imagined 
that hers was a nature which would love 
with passion or not at all — with passion 
that being itself a form of selfishness 
swallowed up all other selfishnesses while it 
lasted : it was thus that she had loved him. 
He could not imagine Eleanour as a wife 
who would love her husband with quiet 
and undemonstrative, because perfect, house- 
hold love — with such love as is a daily de- 
votion of unconscious self-sacrifice. Neither 
could he imagine the possibility of two 

VOL. III. 



194 BOND AND FREE. 

passionate loves in one woman's life. How 
then could Eleanour be happy ? 

Next morning Wilfred went out early 
for a solitary walk; when he returned to 
the house Mr. Edler was lounging in the 
porch, sunning himself. He recognized 
Wilfred immediately, but with sufficiently 
evident surprise to show that his wife had 
not informed him of her having done so 
the night before. Appearing glad to meet 
anybody with whom to exchange a few 
words he detained Wilfred. In the course 
of conversation he said (he had addressed 
Wilfred as Mason) : — 

" Do you know the name of a dark- 
haired middle-aged lady who is staying 
in the house ? I met her on the stairs 
just now and seemed to know her face." 

" Her name is Verbane," Wilfred an- 
swered, and did not enter into any expla- 
nation. 



BOND AND FREE. 195 

"I do not know the name, and yet I 
seemed to know the face. I am afraid 
any lady must be uncomfortably lodged 
here. I should like my wife to see about 
it — her maid occupies a room which we have 
no right to monopolize/ 7 

Considering this as only a passing thought 
in a good-natured man's mind Wilfred took 
no notice of it, but gave a new turn to 
the conversation. As he and his mother 
lingered over their late breakfast, however, 
a rustling in the passage was followed by a 
knock at their door, and Mrs. Edler's maid 
entered to ask if Mrs. Verbane would see 
her mistress. The answer being of course 
affirmative Mr. and Mrs. Edler entered. 

Eleanour came in with superciliously- 
drooped lids, leaning on her husband's 
arm, looking stately, languid, and handsome ; 
but much aged since Mrs. Verbane had last 
seen her. When she raised her sullenly- 

o 2 



196 BOND AND FREE. 

haughty eyes and found herself face to face 
with ' Wilfred Mason ' and ' Mrs. Lister ' 
every trace of colour left her face. 

She turned sharply to her maid, saying — 

" This is one of your stupid mistakes, 
Ann — this person is not Mrs. Verbane." 

Mr. Edler, astonished to find Wilfred 
and the lady whose face he had thought 
he ought to know and whom he now re- 
membered to have known as Mrs. Lister, 
domesticated together, looked to Wilfred 
for an explanation. 

" This lady is Mrs. Yerbane, and my 
mother," Wilfred said, fixing his eyes 
sternly on Eleanour as he placed a 
chair for her. Her eyes immediately fell 
before this look from his. She took the 
chair he offered her, and appeared to wrap 
herself in a mantle of unapproachable 
silence, while her husband, Mrs. Verbane, 
and Wilfred tried to decrease the awk- 



BOND AND FREE. 197 

wardness of the meeting by conversing on 
safe general topics, even by slight and 
general explanations. When Wilfred ad- 
dressed her Eleanour just answered him 
and then relapsed into her former 
statuesque coldness and silence : to all her 
husband's efforts to rouse her and draw 
her into the conversation she was wholly 
irresponsive. 

After sitting in this manner for about 
a quarter of an hour she rose abruptly, 
gathered her shawl round her, called for 
her husband — and, after a haughty and 
formal leave-taking, standing silent and 
still, while her husband made kind 
offers and said good-natured things for her 
and for himself, she swept from the room. 
Wilfred threw up the window as far as it 
would go directly the door closed behind 
her. A rich, strong perfume which Elea- 
nour Narpenth had always used pervaded 



198 BOND AND FREE. 

the small room, making its atmosphere op- 
pressive — but was it only this of which he 
wished to rid it ? 

Neither he nor his mother made other 
comment on their visitors than this, and the 
significant words, " Poor Edler." 

Meanwhile Eleanour, having regained 
her pretty sitting-room upstairs, threw 
herself on the sofa, exclaiming — 

" See what you have subjected me to by 
your absurd quixotism, Hermann ! The 
shock I have received has knocked me up 
for the day!" 

" Did you know of Mason's, or rather 
of Verbane's, presence in the house ? " 
" I saw him at the window last night." 
" Just before your pony started off ? " 
" Just before my pony started off." 
" Did you know of his change of name?" 
" I knew he had changed his name — 
nothing more. Don't bore me by ques- 



BOND AND FREE. 199 

tions. Eead to me — something amusing. I 
feel that I shall be ill after this shock. " 

" What shock ? As you knew that 
Mason was in the house I do not see 
what overwhelming shock you can have re- 
ceived. But had you treated me with can- 
dour I could have spared you this meeting." 

Mr. Edler's manner was cold, nay even 
somewhat contemptuous. Eleanour was evi- 
dently astonished by it. Half raising her- 
self, resting on her arm, she looked at*him 
with kindling eyes and rising colour. 

" You ask what shock it is to which 
you have subjected me. It will be well 
for you not to repeat that question, Mr. 
Edler; it may receive too plain an answer." 

"I do repeat my question, Eleanour — 
to what great shock have I subjected 
you?" 

" I will tell you then," she answered, 
defiantly and passionately. " The shock of 



200 BOND AND FREE. 

being brought face to face with a man 
whom I loved, as I never loved and 
never shall love you — loved with a de- 
vouring, uncontrollable passion that be- 
trayed itself to him and demanded his 
love — loved with such a love as made me 
cling to him, and shut my eyes to the 
truth that he did not love me. The 
shock of meeting this man face to face 
to feel that his old power is not gone — 
that I could have thrown myself at his 
feet to-day as I have done in times gone 
by — the shock of feeling this and of read- 
ing in his eyes love for a woman I hate, 
and cold, contemptuous reproof for me. 
Have you heard enough, Mr. Edler or 
shall I tell you more ? " 

Her husband had drawn near her : he 
stood looking down on her — their eyes 
met — perhaps she read in his something 
of the work she had done — perhaps she 



BOND AND FREE. 201 

was frightened by the expression of his 
face. She averted hers, buried it in the 
sofa -cushions, and began to sob convul- 
sively. He waited by her and watched 
her with unflinching and unsoftening eyes. 
She was mistaken if she thought her tears 
and sobs could bring him to her feet. 

" You have taught me a lesson for 
which I thank you," he said, when she 
was quiet enough to hear him. u For five 
long years, years which crowned the con- 
stancy of a life, I have tried by untiring 
devotion to win your love. There shall be 
no more of this folly. You shall have no 
more chance of trampling on my love ; and 
of stabbing my honour with your tongue. 
I will change our way of life." 

Dangerous sparks flashed from his eyes ; 
he pushed the slightly-grizzled, strong, black 
hair back from his resolute brow, and 
stood above her a justly-angry, much- 



202 BOND AND FREE. 

wronged man — a man who had endured 
long, and meant to endure no longer. 

" You will play Petruchio, perhaps ? " 
she said, attempting a tone of raillery. 
" Be warned ! I am a shrew he would 
never have tamed — he would have died 
by my hand." 

" Play Petruchio ? " he asked, bitterly. 
" For what ? Indeed, I shall not be at 
that trouble. For Petruchio there was a 
prize worth winning — a shrew worth tam- 
ing. Katherine was what my wife has 

shown me that she is not." 

" Make use of my confession ! Perhaps 
I said more than I meant. Your in- 
difference roused me to anger. Load me 
with insult — threaten me — that is manly ! " 

" The manliness a woman of your sort can 
alone appreciate ; manly forbearance, consi- 
deration, gentleness, all go to feed your 
faults. You have taught me that women and 



BOND AND FREE. 203 

cowards only love those who oppress them 
and trample on them — as far as is in my na- 
ture I will profit by your lesson. You are 
right to treat a man who has fawned on 
you and followed you like a spaniel as you 
might have treated that spaniel — only worse, 
far worse. You are right to lavish on a scorn- 
ful lover the regrets that a more simple 
woman might regard as treason against a 
devoted husband ! I choose now to exchange 
parts with you — I will exact obedience, the 
sacrifice of your charming caprices. You must 
conform your life to mine. I have a serious 
purpose in life — you have none. I will 
bear this in mind. You think me brutal 
to-day — you will often think me so. I 
have to thank you for a rough awaken- 
ing from an enervating dream. You are 
morally sick with a sickness unto foul 
disease and death ; I mean to undertake 
your cure. You will not thank me now — 



204 BOND AND FREE. 

any more than a spoiled child thanks the 
father who chastises it. I know that you 
will not. You will be violent and mutinous. 
I, however, am not a man to be conquered 
by a woman who does not love me. I will 
be rough and resolute. I leave you now. 
I am going to church — I am superstitious 
enough to desire to ask a blessing there 
upon my work as a physician." 

He left her alone through all the weary 
hours of a fine Sunday. Coming home at 
night he found her asleep on the couch 
where he had left her. As he stood by her, 
watching her uneasy slumber, there was a 
heartstricken mournfulness in his face, and 
his eyes expressed a sorrowing pity— of him- 
self, of her, or of them both. 

" Strengthen me for the work — let me 
win her and save her ! " he cried. 

He left her where he found her and him- 
self retired to rest. Worn out by fatigue 



BOND AND FREE. 205 

and fasting he was surprised by the sleep 
he had meant to feign. 

Little by little, slowly and toilfully, love, 
wise now and no longer blind, conquered 
and won love again. Not pure, unselfish, 
and all-comprehending love — but such love 
as being a second selfishness kept more 
direct selfishness in abeyance — such love as 
owed some of its strength to fear and 
yielded as its chief fruit obedience. 

Hermann Ecller, therefore, found the 
chief good of life to consist in work : he 
devoted himself to art and won fame. 
For the tinge of mournfulness in all his re- 
presentations of life — for his deep-lying 
scepticism of human happiness — for his con- 
stant dwelling on one theme in its infi- 
nite varieties — the reaping of misery and 
disappointment from fulfilled wishes and 
granted prayers — for these things his 
wife must answer as best she may. 



206 



CHAPTER XV. 

11 A shock of pleasure may be or may be of pain 
And then the hopes that had ebbed out — hopes idly vain, 
Return in full spring- tide to flood the heart again." 

"You, perhaps, have already heard of this, 
Verbane ? " Mr. Tregarther said, entering 
paper in hand the library at Tyngelt Place 
where his secretary was writing. " This may 
possibly account for Miss Southern's having 
discouraged my nephew, Templar." 

Mr. Tregarther did not raise his eyes 
from the paper ; Wilfred's fingers still 
moved over a half-covered sheet, as he said, 
feeling that he was expected to say some- 
thing — 



BOND AND FREE. 207 

" Miss Southern is married then ? " 

" Married ! who told you so ? " 

" I imagined that that paper told you so." 

" Dear me, no ! " 

Wilfred laid down his pen and leant 
back in his chair, looking at Mr. Tregarther 
for an explanation. 

" To what do you allude, then ? " 

" Beech Holmes is the name of the South- 
ern's place, is it not ? " 

" Certainly." 

" Beech Holmes is advertised for sale — 
here, read the advertisement. No name of 
the owners is mentioned, but it is not 
likely that there are two estates of that 
name in the same county. I can't in the 
least understand it. The sum Ireton left 
Mrs. Southern was a large one — yet, you 
see — ' to be sold for benefit of the creditors, 
etc., '" 

The words, all contained in the advertise- 



208 BOND AND FREE. 

ment, "Manor-house," "timber," "pasture," 
"sheep-walks," jumbled themselves together 
unintelligibly in Wilfred's head. He pushed 
the paper from him. 

" You know nothing more than you have 
learnt from this ? " he asked. 

" Nothing — and you ? " 

"Nothing." 

"I am deeply concerned for them, so 
will Lady Tregarther be. I must go and 
talk it over with her and see if nothing 
can be done in the way of inviting them 
here." 

"Mr. Tregarther lingered at the door 
for some time longer before he was 
fairly gone — but Wilfred heard very little 
of what was said. 

When he was alone again he remained 
idle for a few moments, and his face was 
grave, and intently thoughtful. After those 
few moments he continued his interrupted 



BOND AND FREE. 209 

business, quickly completed it and then rode 
home very fast through driving, blinding 
November rain and sleet. 

"You have heard it already," he said, 
after a glance into his mother's face. 

"This letter from Mrs. Southern came 
just after you left the house." As she 
spoke, she helped to pull off his wet coat ; 
then having brought him his slippers and 
pushed his chair near the fire she stood 
in the window, looking out, watching the 
rain ; listening to its dreary splashing, 
and pitying the poor battered-about late 
flowers, while Wilfred read. 

Mrs. Southern's letter was addressed to 
his mother. 

" Dear Friend," it began :— 

" Our Christmas meeting, if indeed 
we meet at all, will not be at Beech 
Holmes, as we had planned. No doubt you 
have already heard of our changed for- 

VOL. III. p 



210 BOND AND FREE. 

tune. You must forgive us that you were 
left to hear of it indirectly. Felicia and I 
each believed that the other had written 
to you. My girl does everything — I thought 
that she had done this. 

" I never valued the fortune that came to 
us so unexpectedly. It caused us much 
trouble in its coming, and I always felt that 
it came too late — too late to save my 
son, whose health was undermined by long 
unremitting application ; but now its sudden 
departure leaves us poorer than it found us 
— burdened by debts to pay off which 
we sell Beech Holmes. I have to reproach 
myself, too, for our losses ; I allowed a per- 
son towards whom I had alwavs felt a 

■I 

certain amount of distrust to manage all 
the business, and did not seek advice from 
any one. Well, he was not much better 
than a swindler, and was connected with 
swindlers, and this is the consequence. 



BOND AND FREE. 211 

"We linger at Beech Holmes as long as 
it is any way possible. God knows that it 
will be a trial to us to leave it ; but as 
yet we keep quite cheerful — perhaps we 
have not yet taken our trial home. Fe- 
licia is always an angel of consolation ; 
yet, of course, it is for her I grieve — 
wealth in her hands would have been a 
blessing to hundreds. She says, however, 
that she should have been made unhappy 
by its responsibilities — that, but for having 
to leave Beech Holmes, she should be glad 
that our wealth was gone — that she has 
never been very happy since it came. 

" Of our plans for the future I can say 
nothing yet. I have no one with whom 
to consult ; both Arthur and John Lan- 
don are still abroad with their wives and 
families, and Mary's husband has accepted 
an East Indian appointment. 

" Felicia is everything to me. Even I, who 

p2 



212 BOND AND FREE. 

know her well, am astonished sometimes 
by the depth of her calm, practical sense, 
and by her unruffled cheerfulness. 

" It shall not be long before I write 
again. Greet your son fondly for me, and 
" Believe me, my dear friend, 

" Ever faithfully yours, 

" Edith Southern." 

" I shall go to Beech Holmes, mother ! " 
Wilfred said; the tone — clear, firm, almost 
joyous — startled Mrs. Verbane ; "I must 
start to-night; it is not fit for them to be 
so alone at such a time — I may be of 
some use to them." 

" Directly I had read Mrs. Southern's 
letter I answered it, Wilfred, in the way 
I thought you would wish. I asked them 
to come and be our guests for a while. 
Need you go, as I have done this?" 

" I think I need, mother. They will not 
come." 



BOND AND FREE. 213 

" You must judge, my son — I will get your 
portmanteau ready at once/' 

As the mother and son parted a few 
hours later Mrs. Verbane said : — 

" In all things do what is best for you 
and for them — do not study me. I shall 
be content and happy any way ! " 

" God bless you, mother!" was his fer- 
vent answer. 



214 



CHAPTER XVI. 

"For Love himself took part against himself." 

About nine o'clock on a dismal November 
night Wilfred reached Beech Holmes. The 
moon's light struggling through the fog 
showed him the gaunt, bare arms of the 
noble beeches swinging and swaying about; 
a sound as of sobbing and wailing eddied 
in the air — perhaps it was the sound of their 
leave-taking lament as they stretched their 
aged hands to each other across the road — 
for on the trunks of some of them were fatal 
figures, telling that their days were num- 
bered. 



BOND AND FREE. 215 

As Wilfred went up the avenue, as- 
cended the terrace-steps, crossed the flags 
and stood in the porch, the past and pre- 
sent mingled strangely : it seemed to him 
that Herbert's arm was passed through his 
— that Herbert's breath was on his cheek 
— and his kind words of welcome sounding 
in his ear. 

" As far as is in my power I will take 
your place/' he said aloud ; " I will strive 
to put self aside for a time and to be a son 
to your mother, a brother to your sister." 

He did not give his name to the ser- 
vant who admitted him, but merely asked 
to see Mrs. Southern. Following the girl 
across the cold dismantled hall, past the 
open doors of desolate, dark chambers, she 
led him to the door of the small oak- 
panelled room which had been Mrs. South- 
ern's peculiar den, and left him to enter 
unannounced. 



216 BOND AND FREE. 

The room was dimly lighted. 
Felicia sat at a table littered with papers, 
her face was turned from the door and 
towards the fire by which Mrs. Southern 
was lying half-asleep. The servant shut 
the door after Wilfred rather noisily. Fe- 
licia did not look up from the figures on 
which she seemed so intent, but the sound 
roused Mrs. Southern. She rose, peered 
at Wilfred with something like terror in 
her face, and then advanced a few steps 
towards him. 

Her voice had a shrill intonation which 
made Felicia look up with a startled air 
as she asked : — 

"Is it Wilfred? Wilfred Mason?' 7 
" It is Wilfred — Wilfred Verbane," he 
said, as he took her hand in his and led 
her back to her couch. She sat down on 
it speechless and trembling. 

"I am very sorry I startled you — I did 



BOND AND FREE. 217 

not mean to do that," Wilfred observed, 
penitently. 

" This is kind, and a great pleasure," 
Felicia said. She had had time to recover 
from her first surprise and came towards 
Wilfred with outstretched hand. The face 
she raised towards his was very pale — the 
eyes that looked into his with such soft 
thankfulness were full of tears ; he t took 
her hand in both his, bent over her 
and kissed her cheek, saying, as he did 
so : — 

" I want to fill Herbert's place — let me 
be as a brother, your elder brother to you 
for a time." 

The expression of child-like reliance with 
which that poor, pale face had looked up 
into his, had made the action seem natural. 
His kiss had been kind and calm ; but 
when he saw a faint crimson suffuse Fe- 
licia's cheeks as she turned quickly from 



218 BOND AND FREE. 

him, he was troubled, and doubted had he 
acted well. 

As a lover he would not have dared to 
kiss her then, he would have thought it 
cruel and cowardly to presume to do so ; 
but his was not a lover's kiss, he had 
temporarily abrogated other hopes and 
claims, and wished her to feel in him 
only the calm, protecting tenderness which 
a brother would have shown her — that she 
might freely come to him for such aid 
as a brother might have given her. 

Felicia did not misunderstand his action ; 
it was his kindness, contrasting with the 
coldness of his manner towards her at 
Tyngelt, that had overwhelmed her for a 
moment ; but after that moment she re- 
gained her self-possession — she showed that 
she had not misunderstood his action by 
treating him as if indeed he had been 
her brother. 



BOND AND FREE. 219 

Mrs. Southern made Wilfred take an easy- 
chair by the fire, upon which she piled 
wood with her own hands, while Felicia 
herself superintended the preparation of his 
supper. He was made to feel that he was 
a most welcome guest. 

" I have longed to have some one be- 
sides that poor child to lean on," Mrs. 
Southern said, while Felicia was absent; 
" for I feel as if she were a slender reed, 
which I am bowing down to the ground. 
I cannot thank you enough for coming, so 
I shall not try to thank you at all." She 
went on to speak more of her daughter. 

After supper, Felicia again bending over 
those weary papers, Mrs. Southern gave 
Wilfred a full and detailed account of the 
events of the last few months — of the 
nature of the fraud of which she had been 
a victim. He was not a very attentive 
listener; for his watchful eyes noted that 



220 BOND AND FREE. 

Felicia's hand was once or twice raised 
and pressed against her brow, and that 
her mouth, by its firm compression, gave 
sign of suffering. 

" You are tiring yourself," he said, at 
last, approaching and stooping over her. 
" You might trust a brother to attend to 
this for you — might you not ? " 

"I will do no more to-night," she an- 
swered, looking up into his face with a 
sweet smile, that was by no means a sad 
smile — his kindness made her very happy. 
"I am tired — a little. My head is always 
a very stupid one at figures." She left 
the table and took the chair that Wilfred 
placed for her by the fire. 

Mrs. Southern, wishing to see that 
Wilfred's room was ready and a good 
fire burning there, left them together by- 
and-by. Of course they then talked chiefly 
of her. Felicia spoke of her mother's bright 



BOND AND FREE. 221 

heroic way of bearing trouble, of her rapidly 
increasing infirmities, and of her fear that 
her courage must give way when it came 
to the last — to leaving Beech Holmes. 

"At your mother's age, and by people 
with your dear mother's faith, such things 
are not acutely felt, I think," Wilfred 
said. "We all, I suppose, comfort ourselves 
more or less in times of trouble by think- 
ing of the shortness of life, by dwelling 
on the fact that each day we leave behind 
shortens by so much our time of trial. 
At your mother's age this consolation is 
more vividly present; she feels herself to 
be near her long home. It is for you, 
Felicia, that she regrets this change the 
most." There was a pause ; then he added 
— " Did you think me presumptuous in 
asking to be looked upon as a brother ? — 
an elder brother ? " 

"No! Oh no!" 



222 BOND AND FREE. 

" But perhaps you would hardly suffer 
even an elder brother to approach the subject 
on which I want to speak a few words. 
Your mother, while you were from the 
room, told me of Mr. Templar's visit — of 
the way in which he pressed his former 
suit when he heard of your change of 
fortune. Will my praise of Mr. Templar 
have any weight with you? I could tell 
you much about him that would raise him 
in any good woman's estimation. He is 
an excellent young fellow, with aims 
and views far higher than ordinary." 

" Mr. Templar has his final answer." 
Felicia spoke with something more like 
petulance and haughtiness than Wilfred had 
ever heard her use before. " He meant 
well," she said, " and, no doubt, the world 
would say that he acted generously ; but 
it was with difficulty that I could refrain 
from showing that I thought him imper- 
tinent and ungenerous." 



BOND AND FREE, 223 

" Why so, Felicia ? " He looked at her, 
leaning his head on his hand and shading 
his face from the light of the fire. 

"What right had he to dream that my 
change of fortune could change my heart? 
Was it not something like an insult to 
act as if he thought this possible ? Must 
he not have thought very meanly of women 
before he could have done this?" Felicia, 
with kindled eyes, burning cheeks, and a 
thrill of passion trembling through her 
voice, was very different from any Felicia 
Wilfred had known before ; nevertheless, 
this Felicia would have pleased him well, 
but for one thought that rose in his mind. 

"You judge young Templar sternly — 
with less than your wonted charity," he 
said, reprovingly. 

"He could not have acted as he did 
had his love been unselfish." She persisted 
— " He must have thought too much of 



224 BOND AND FREE. 

how grandly generous his offer proved him 
to be — not enough of how mean and base 
I should have proved myself had I ac- 
cepted it." 

" This is not like you — you are not 
charitable, Felicia/' Wilfred spoke harshly, 
stung with pain by the thought — " Will 
she judge me thus if, by-and-by, I sup- 
plicate for that for which I did not ask 
while I believed her to be wealthy?" 

" Not charitable ? " she asked, while her 
lip quivered. "I hope I am not becoming 
hard and bitter ; sometimes I fear I am. 
I think I shall grow better now that we 
are poor again — as we were when we lived 
abroad. I have not been happy lately." 
Meeting Wilfred's eyes, all soft once more, 
and full of pity, she bowed her head down 
on her hands and let her tears have way — 
only for a moment. 

" Is not this ungrateful?" she asked. 



BOND AND FREE. 225 

" You see I am a spoiled child, and cry 
if I am scolded. Do not scold me to- 
night — I am very tired, you cannot think 
how tired. Mamma thinks me so strong 
and so wise, and I am very glad, for 
that is a comfort to her; but really I 
am very, very weak and foolish. I feel some- 
times as if my heart would break : it 
seems sometimes as if I could find no- 
thing safe, nothing sure, to rest upon. 
This must be because I am not good — 
must it not? I know I ought not to 
feel like this." 

It might have required more strength for 
self-restraint than Wilfred even now possessed 
to make him refrain from taking this weary, 
weeping child into his arms and telling her 
of his love and of how she must learn to 
rest upon that; but just at this moment 
Mrs. Southern returned to the room. 

VOL. III. Q 



226 BOND AND FREE. 

For the next few days Wilfred ruled 
himself with a hand of iron ; he had his re- 
ward — the reward he desired — he was allowed 
to arrange and settle everything for Mrs. 
Southern and Felicia, thus sparing them much 
trouble and much pain. He could not, how- 
ever, prevail upon them to accept his 
mother's invitation and become her guests; 
he found that they had already taken a 
small house, standing in the Minster Yard 
of the neighbouring town of Silver-Thorpe, 
to which they meant to remove on the 
day before the sale. They had no secrets 
from him ; he knew that at present Mrs. 
Southern's income was enough to pay the 
rent of this house, and to leave them 
about twenty pounds a-year besides ; but 
there was some hope that in a few years 
this small income would be doubled. 

As a means of increasing this scanty 
pittance, Felicia proposed to give lessons ; 



BOND AND FREE. 227 

she had already made her wish to obtain 
pupils known. 

Wilfred endured much during these days, 
while — maintaining resolute silence as to 
his hope and his love — he heard the kind 
of life Felicia planned for herself calmly 
discussed. To think of such a life for 
Felicia — and to dread that, not loving 
him with such love as could mature to 
wifely love, she would refuse to share 
with him a life which if she loved him 
they could each make so bright for the 
other — to bear about this unresolved 
doubt and dread was indeed stern torture. 

The last day of lingering at Beech 
Holmes came, bringing with it a pause from 
incessant thought and toil : everything that 
had to be done was done, and this day 
was to be a day of rest. 

Mrs. Southern was, by her own wish, 
left alone in her room for the greater part 

Q2 



228 BOND AND FREE. 

of it. Towards afternoon, Felicia, having 
for the last time visited every part of 
the house, came to the room which they 
had alone used of late, where Wilfred was. 

She was very wan and cold : the smile 
with which she answered Wilfred's look 
was a sickly smile ; she did just as he 
desired her — sat down on the couch which 
he drew close to the fire, dropping her, 
head upon the pillow so wearily ! She 
closed her eyes, but he saw the tears 
creeping through the lashes and trickling 
down the white cheeks — saw the quivering of 
her mouth, and the painful working of her 
slight fingers. 

Seeing all this, he mused. She looked 
so very frail, so utterly weary, so unfit 
for the life of toil that was just opening 
before her, as if the very prospect and 
contemplation of it might be enough to 
crush her! 



BOND AND FREE. 229 

"If she loves me," he thought to him- 
self — " if she loves me, it will be good for 
her now to know of my love, and to have 
that dreary, weary prospect shut out. She 
would rest upon my love — lean upon it 
in full confidence ; it would strengthen 
and comfort her, the poor, tired child! 
If she does not love me — Well, any way 
I must go home soon, there is not much 
more that I can do. Even if she does 
not love me, to know of my love, sometimes 
to think of it, might change the sad current 
of her thoughts and give her some rest 
from those which trouble her. 

So he mused. Then he spoke, saying 
only her name. 

" Felicia ! " At the sound of his voice 
the dim eyes opened and fixed themselves 
on him, but the girl did not raise her 
head. His heart beat violently — his breath 



230 BOND AND FREE. 

came fast and thick. He drew a little 
nearer, but not close to her. 

" Felicia, you will not condemn me as 
you did Mr. Templar — you must not — 
you cannot, for you know that I loved 
you long ago, when I was utterly un- 
worthy — not only unworthy of your love, 
but utterly unworthy to love you. I do 
not mean that I am worthy now ; but I 
love you, Felicia, with all love — I have 
never ceased to love you. I have kept 
this love in my own heart very long, but 
it will be heard at last. You will never 
part from your mother — I never will part 
from mine ; but if you love me, Felicia — 
if you feel that, knowing of my love, 
you can learn to love me, let us be one 
household — be my wife, come home to me 
with your mother." 

She had raised her head from the pil- 
low to listen. As he spoke, light, warmth, 



BOND AND FREE. 23 L 

and beauty came back into her face — her 
eyes shone wtth a great awe and joy. 
Implicitly believing what he told her of 
his constant love, she triumphed in it — 
not for her own sake, but for his — 
triumphed in his nobleness of constancy. 
She understood both his self-restraint in 
not speaking earlier and his reason for 
speaking now — all he had done, and his mo- 
tives where he had forborne to do — everything 
connected with him presented itself to her in 
a glorified light. She exulted in the great- 
ness and the goodness of the man whom 
she loved — loved utterly. 

Wilfred came no nearer : he did not 
understand the expression of her face. 
He could have fallen on his knees and 
worshipped its pure beauty — he stood still, 
waiting for her judgment. 

He spoke again — before she had time 
to collect her thoughts : — 



232 BOND AND FREE. 

" One entreaty I have to make : if you 
do not love me with such love as I bear 
you — and I hardly dare dream that you 
do — forget what I have said. Let me be 
anything, so that I still may be some- 
thing to you. I can live without your 
love, perhaps ; but your friendship, your 
affection, I must have, Felicia." 

She rose and approached him. He felt 
instantly that she came to him not to 
give him herself, but her denial. 

" Only that I know that you would be 
pained to see me kneel, I could thank 
you on my knees for your noble love and 
constancy — love and constancy which I 
cannot repay in the way you wish, but 
to think of which seems like some won- 
derfully-beautiful, strange dream to me. 
Dear Wilfred, you have made me very 
happy, but it cannot be as you desire — 
I cannot be your wife ! " 



BOND AND FREE. 233 

Her voice was hardly audible speaking 
the last few words. She held her hands 
out to him, but did not trust herself to meet 
his eyes. Taking her hands, he bowed his 
head over them submissively. Leaning his 
forehead on them, he said : — 

" God has decided. I am not worthy. 
He has not let your heart love me." 

Her lips parted and her face flushed. 

" Never say that you are not worthy ! " 
she cried. " It hurts me to hear you say 
that ! It is I who have not been worthy to 
have been constantly loved by a heart given 
to the service of God and of your fellow- 
men as yours has been. It is strange and 
wonderful to me that you should love me." 

He looked up — an eager, inquiring look, 
in which was a dawn of transient hope. 

" It cannot be — I cannot be your wife ! 
I have decided ! " she said, in a low, firm 
voice. 



234 BOND AND FREE. 

Wilfred bowed his head down upon her 
hands again and then a momentary anguish 
dashed her solemn joy ; as her eyes rested on 
the greyness of that bowed head her soul 
was penetrated by pity. 

When he dropped her hands and once 
more stood erect, her face was clear, pure, 
and serene. They looked fearlessly into 
each other's eyes, and he felt that she 
indeed loved him ! — with the love of angels — 
with love akin to divine love, with love that 
loves what most needs loving. Nevertheless, 
he implicitly believed her words — that she 
could not be his wife — believed that God 
had not suffered her heart to be drawn to- 
wards him in that way. 

Putting away personal pain — suppressing 
the anguish of his disappointment, he 
said : — 

" This need make no difference between 
us. You may trust me — I will conquer my- 



BOND AND FREE. 235 

self. I will never importune you to give 
me what you choose to withhold from me. 
I will be content to be your friend — but I 
must be a close and dear friend. " 

That last clause had a touch of passionate 
imperiousness. 

" My very dearest friend/ ' she said, true- 
heartedly. " I shall never have a dearer — I 
feel that nothing will come between us here 
or hereafter." 

She feared she had said too much — yet 
she felt she owed him no less. She did not 
think at all of her own dignity — she only 
longed to give him all assurance of all love 
— save only such assurance of such love 
as would give him a right to claim her 
as his own — to take her burdens upon him- 
self. 

He sighed, perhaps incredulous of the en- 
durance of such a bond. Other words trem- 
bled on her lips ; but she turned and fled — 



236 BOND AND FREE. 

ran upstairs to her own little room, her 
harbour of refuge. Alone ! no ears to hear 
her, her heart would speak ! 

" I love him ! I have always loved him ! 

I am proud that I love him ! His wife ! 

— I would gladly be his slave ; he would 

be more tender to his slave than other 

men to their wives — more tender and more 

true. Ah, I love him ! Do I remember 

the time when I did not love him? And 

now I know surely that he loves me 

must I be for ever silent about my love? 

My tears fell among his grey hairs — as 

I looked at them I almost gave way. 

Why must I turn away from happiness 

purer, clearer, deeper than I ever dreamed 

life would offer me? Because I love him. 

Does pure love lay heavy burdens on what 

it loves, and fetter it with heavy chains? 

I know what his life now is — what a 

glorious good life it is, and — he has his 



BOND AND FREE. 237 

mother — he was happy when I saw him 
at Tyngelt — and he was free — his noble 
hands were free — his noble thoughts were 
free. Oh for a little of our wealth to 
come back ! then he should take us home 
with him ! — take me and my mother, and 
I should be his wife, and know such rest ! 
Oh, pitiful Father ! show me, teach me 
— do I do well ? Must I relinquish this 
great happiness ? " 

She was on her knees by her bedside 
now, wringing her upraised hands while 
tears streamed down her cheeks. 

" I cannot see Thee — I cannot feel 
Thee, Father ! — all is dark, and I am 
alone, alone ! " she moaned. Then, from 
striving to pray, she found her thoughts 

wandering to what might be, if- she 

dared not contemplate the bright possi- 
bility. 

" He has had a hard life — he is grow- 



238 BOND AND FREE. 

ing old before his time — grey and wasted 
and worn — how can I lay more burdens 
on him — clog his usefulness and cause his 
hand to refrain from giving and his 
thoughts from travelling wheresoever they 
will? Would not his mother hate me? — 
his mother, who sacrificed so much for 
him ? " 

Felicia rose from her knees less calmed 
and comforted than ever before in her life ; 
she had no confidence in her own decision 
— she mistrusted her heart and her reason 
equally. 

That night, as she lay by her mother, 
awake through all the hours of the last 
night in their old home, she said to her- 
self perpetually : — 

"If I have done right, why am I not 
at peace? As a child I was only miser- 
able when I was naughty. Why can I 
find no peace, no rest? Why does my 



BOND AND FREE. 239 

heart ache in this way ? Does Wilfred 
suffer as I do ? If so, I must be wrong 
to give him such pain — such gnawing, 
wearing pain. But no ! he is a man — 
and is doing a noble man's work. I am 
but a weak-hearted woman. It is not 
likely that he suffers as I do ; he will go 
home to his mother and his work, and 
will — not forget me — no, but remember me 
only as a dear, distant friend." 

It was new for Felicia to feel her life- 
barque tossing on such troubled waters. Now 
it seemed to her that her conduct in deny- 
ing herself to Wilfred was presumptuous — 
that, loving her as he did, he had a right 
to her. Then, again, as she thought of 
his mother and of hers, of the sensitive 
delicacy of his physical organization and 
of his anxious, nervous temperament, 
her love justified the decision of her 
reason, and she told herself that it was 



240 BOND AND FREE. 

selfishness, not love, which urged her 

to be deaf to all besides, and to listen 

only to her own importunate heart. 

"Yet, if I am doing right, why am I 
not at peace ? " she asked herself again 
and again. 



241 



CHAPTER XVII. 

M My pent-up tears oppress my brain, 

My heart is swollen with love unsaid ; 
Oh, let me weep and tell my pain, 
And on thy shoulder rest my head." 

Mrs. Southern and Felicia soon settled 
down in their new home. It was a small 
house in the quiet Minster Yard of 
Silverthorpe : its front windows looked 
upon some fine old trees which, when 
clothed, nearly shut off the Minster, and 
from which arose that cawing of rooks 
always so suggestive of immemorial 
calm. At the back lay a rich open 

VOL. III. R 



242 BOND AND FREE. 

country, bounded by the hills that rose 
behind Beech Holmes. 

To look upon these familiar hills, even 
from an unfamiliar point of view, was a 
pleasure to Felicia. Many favourite books 
and ornaments and a few small pieces of old- 
fashioned furniture which had found their 
way from Beech Holmes to Silverthorpe, 
gave the small house a pleasant, home- 
like aspect. 

Wilfred had remained at Beech Holmes 
a day or two after the departure of the 
mother and daughter in order to make 
some final arrangements in their name. 
He now lingered in Silverthorpe, sleeping 
at the " Golden Lion," but spending 
nearly all his time at Mrs. Southern's. 
Each day was to be his last day; but he 
lingered on, detained by a dim hope and 
suspicion — hope and suspicion born of 
Felicia's changed manner towards him. 



BOND AND FREE. 243 

But both his hope and his suspicion 
were dim — sometimes they died out utterly. 
These days of lingering were peculiarly 
trying to Felicia. There was a pause in 
her life — a pause between the past and 
future — past excitement and future work. 
They should have been days of rest. She 
deeply needed rest, but she could find no 
rest while Wilfred was still near her, and 
still so far from her. She earnestly de- 
sired that he would leave her and go 
home ; and she sickened at the very thought 
of the desolation, she should feel when he 
was gone. He treated her with a reverent 
tenderness and a gentle consideration that 
often nearly overpowered her — waking in 
her such longing to fall at his knees, and 
to confess all her love and all her deep dire 
pain ! Her manner towards him became 
very uncertain : sometimes she shunned 
him, and could hardly bear to meet his 

K2 



244 BOND AND FREE. 

eyes — at other times she could not tear 
herself from his presence, and her own 
eyes would dwell with overflowing love on 
his averted face. Felicia felt herself to be 
changed — it seemed to her as if things 
foreign to her nature warred within her — 
as if some power beyond her control 
worked upon her. Sometimes she glided 
from the room where Wilfred and her 
mother sat, and, locking herself into her 
own, abandoned herself to grief — so 
wild, so passionate, that she herself was 
frightened at its force, and would after- 
wards fervently ask God to forgive her 
wickedness — to aid her to cast out the evil 
spirit that possessed her ; but these fits 
were not frequent — generally she was quiet 
and her grief was dumb. Of what had 
passed between her and Wilfred she had 
as yet told her mother nothing ; she 
waited till Wilfred should be gone — ah ! 



BOND AND FREE. 245 

when would he go? — what should she do 
when he was gone ? — how bear and hide 
her deep desolation ? 

Poor girl ! — she was truly not herself — 
she was over-worn and ill — unable to sus- 
tain this self-conflict. The heaviest heavi- 
ness of her trouble was, that, un- 
like all other trouble she had known in 
her short life, she could not lay it down 
in prayer. She found no rest for it on 
God — no peace within herself — no peace of 
conscience. Her very dreams were dreams of 
dread : sometimes Wilfred's face, lighted 
by reproachful eyes, haunted them ; 
sometimes his mother appeared before her 
and cried — " You have stolen my son — 
you have killed him — you have laid heavy 
burdens on him, and have crushed him to 
the ground ! " 

At last Wilfred one day said firmly: — 

" I go to-morrow. " 



246 BOND AND FREE. 

Felicia felt that this was a fixed 
decree. He came to the house at dusk 
on his last evening. The house had two 
tiny parlours, one on each side the 
door. In one Mrs. Southern was 
asleep on the sofa — in the other Felicia 
was working by the light of a solitary 
candle : she could not bear idleness and 
fire-light thoughts. Letting him in softly, 
that no noise might be made to rouse 
her mother, she led him into the room 
where she had been sitting. 

"Mamma had a wakeful night and is 
asleep now," she said. Then she took up 
her work again, and drew the candle 
nearer. 

All the bloom of Felicia's beauty was 
gone ; her thin cheeks wore an ashen 
pallor, telling of a languid beating heart, 
and of sad and stagnant blood. Her mouth 
had a painful, quiveringly-compressed ex- 



BOND AND FREE. 247 

pression ; her eyes were surrounded by- 
dark circles, and appeared to hold within 
them little but trouble and pain ; even her 
beautiful hair seemed to have lost its gloss 
and brightness — to-night it was carelessly- 
pushed back behind her small ears, leav- 
ing the blue-veined temples bare — and this 
added greatly to the faded and forlorn look 
of her face. And all this faded forlorn- 
ness, this change, this waste of beauty, did 
but move Wilfred's heart to more intense 
love — mixing new elements of sorrow and of 
pity with the clear, pure flame of his passion. 

" I think I ought to ask your pardon for 
having lingered here so long, Felicia, " 
Wilfred said, as he watched her fingers; 
"I fear it was selfish and has given you 
pain; I certainly leave to-morrow/' 

" Your mother will be very glad to have 
you home," she answered, without raising 
her eyes. 



248 BOND AND FREE. 

Her heart beat suffocatingly now with 
what seemed to her a muffled violence ; she 
thought drearily how cold and ungrateful, 
how insensible to his devotion, he must 
think her ! — and she could not help his 
thinking her so : she must repress and not 
express her feelings — did she but give way 
a little, all would be lost. 

" You look ill, dear Felicia — ill, and not 
happy," Wilfred ventured to remark. " Is 
it because, in the tenderness of your heart 
and its pity for me, you reproach yourself 
for not being able to love me in the way 
I desire? If so, be comforted — I shall 
always thank God that I have loved you — 
that I love you ; my love for you has 
been, and will always be, a purifying, high 
influence. If you cannot love me as I would 
fain be loved by you, I take that as a 
sign from God that I am unworthy of the 
blessing I desired." 



BOND AND FREE. 249 

" Oh, hush ! " she said, hastily ; " you 
pain me — you think of me so much too 
well ; I am so different from what you 
think me!" 

He smiled, sadly enough — but even sadly 
she could not smile. 

"Is that Wilfred? Is Wilfred there?" 
Mrs. Southern asked from the next room. 

" Go to my mother : all the afternoon 
she has been watching for you," Felicia 
said. The hand she held out to him was 
like a hand of ice; he held it a moment 
in his, chafing it gently ; but she had 
turned her head from him. He released 
her hand, sighed, and went to Mrs. 
Southern. She did not follow him. 

One of Wilfred's gloves lay on the table 
near Felicia ; she stretched out her hand 
towards it, drew it to her, put her cheek 
down upon it. She sat thus, listening to the' 
murmur of voices in the next room, till, 



250 BOND AND FREE. 

stupefied by vague, dull pain, she fell 
asleep. 

She was awakened with a start by the 
cautious closing of a door — the house-door ; 
the candle had burnt out — she was alone 
in cold and darkness. 

" He is gone," she thought ; "I have 
slept away the last hour I may ever pass 
in the same house with him — stupid, misera- 
ble sleep." 

" He is gone, mother," she said aloud, 
as she knelt down by her mother and 
rested her head on her lap. 

" Wilfred says that you look very ill, 
my child — is it so? Lift up your head, 
dearest." 

She obeyed, repeating " He is gone, then, 
mother ! " The mother read her face, the 
despair that made her tone so quiet, the 
desolation expressed by her deep eyes. She 
felt that her mother read her secret ; she did 



BOND AND FREE. 251 

not care : he was gone — the struggle was over. 
She was sinking — sinking into unconscious- 
ness, when her mother's words recalled her. 

" He is gone for to-night, love. He 
has taken leave of me, knowing that I do 
not rise early now : in the morning he comes 
to bid you good-bye. You are deathly cold, 
darling. Felicia ! n she added solemnly. " I 
say only this, and let my few words have 
weight : if you sacrifice your happiness for 
me, you will make me wish, and will make 
me pray, that God should take me out of 
this world at once ! " 

" Mother ! I have not made, I do not 
make, I will not make, any sacrifice for you ! " 
Her tone carried conviction with it, for 
what she said was true : all her life she 
had never contemplated the possibility of 
parting from her mother ; if she sacrificed 
her happiness it was for Wilfred — Wilfred, 
whom she felt to-night could not be happy 



252 BOND AND FREE. 

unless he believed her happy. Oh! how 
should she escape from this maze of doubt 
and contradiction into the clearness of sim- 
plicity and truth? 

Though Mrs. Southern was a talker, on 
some subjects she was as reserved as the 
most silent of women — she did not probe 
her daughter's heart ; she said no more 
than, " God guide you, child ; consider your 
own heart — God guide you.'' 

One more wakeful night, hearing the 
Minster chimes through all the long hours 
of darkness. With dawn light seemed to 
come to her mind. 

"Am I not acting a lie in letting him 
think that I do not love him ? " she 
asked herself. " Can this ever be right ? 
I will be true to-day, and let God order 
all else. The mere knowledge of his love 
should have made me infinitely happy ; had 
I not been doing wrong, wrong to him, it 



BOND AND FREE. 253 

would — it must have done so. I will be 
true, and leave all else to God." 

She rose, and found the morning fair 
and mild. "I am very glad he will have 
a pleasant journey," she thought. When 
she stood before her glass her own face 
looked more familiar to her than it had 
done for many a day. She made her 
mother's breakfast and took it to her, 
but she could touch nothing herself this 
morning. She had risen so early that she 
had to wait some time before Wilfred came. 
" If he should not come ? " 

Her heart sickened with wistful expec- 
tation. When she heard his step and voice 
it seemed literally to die within her, and 
she grew cold and faint. 

"Your mother told me to come this 
morning, " he said. "She thought that it 
would grieve you if I went without bidd- 
ing you good-bye, and I could not wake 



254 BOND AND FREE. 

you last night ; you had looked so weary, 
I was glad to see you sleeping. Was your 
mother right? Is it right of me to be 
here?" 

" Oh, yes ! " She could not look up as 
she gave him her hand, for her eyes were 
heavy with tears. Presently the heavy tears 
fell. Then she raised pure, clear eyes to 
his, and tried to speak. She was fair 
again now — very fair : her blood was elo- 
quent, her heart beat quickly. His eyes 
told her so plainly that she was fair, that 
her eyes fell again, and a soft blush 
mantled her cheek. 

"Your sleep did you good, Felicia, and 
you rested well last night. I could almost 
be sorry to see you looking so glad to- 
day, it seems as if you rejoiced that I am 
at last going ! " 

His face was haggard and wan enough, 
she saw. She felt ashamed of her own bloom 
as she answered — 



BOND AND FREE. 255 

" I had no rest last night. For many 
nights I have had no rest — I have not been 
truthful, and I have had no peace. I did 
not trust you as I ought, and I have been 
very miserable." 

Her blush deepened as she spoke. 

Wilfred recoiled. 

" I had no right to your confidence — I 
have now no right. I desire no confidence," 
he said, hurriedly. " If you had loved me 
you would, I know, have had no secrets 
from me. But you think too well of me 
if you think I can bear to be told of your 
love for 'another, and not — not hate that 
other ! No ! no ! forget those hasty words — 
I will not hate anyone whom you love. Tell 
me all : if it is in my power to help you, or 
your — your lover — I solemnly declare I will 
help you, or him. This is what I promised 
— what my promise meant — when — " 

" What did my words mean, Wilfred, when 



256 BOND AND FREE. 

I told you that you would ever be my 
dearest friend — that nothing, no one would 
ever become between us ? " she asked softly, 
and with downcast eyes. 

"They meant " 

Wilfred bent towards her with agonized 
eagerness speaking from his face, but he did 
not draw nearer to her. 

She rose from her seat, went close to 
him, faltered a moment, then knelt down 
at his feet, resting her hands on his 
knees. 

" They meant " — she looked up now 
straight into his eyes — " if you had not 
been so good and humble you must have 
seen that they meant that 1 loved you 
better than I can love anyone else — I love 
you with all love ! " 

He snatched her up into his arms and 
held her there. Her poor weary head found 
rest, at last, upon his shoulder — her heart 



BOND AND FREE. 257 

found rest upon his heart. For a little she 
knew nothing but this rest — thought of no- 
thing but this rest — nay, for a few moments 
she knew not even this. He clasped her 
close, but so tenderly ! — tenderly as a mo- 
ther clasps her babe. This rest was short 
and perfect ! 

At last, pressing his lips on her sealed 
lids, he roused her by one word, softly ut- 
tered—" Mine ! " 

" Yes, always yours in the future, as I 
have been always yours in the past; but 
not all yours yet — perhaps never. I am 
earnest, dear Wilfred. This morning I pro- 
mised myself that I would be true — that I 
would act a lie no longer. Do not let me 
repent my confession. No ! I never can re- 
pent it," she said, blushing vividly. "But 
do not let me have to strive with you ; for 
I am weary of striving — of striving against 
my own heart." 

VOL. III. S 



258 BOND AND FREE. 

"In anything reasonable, dear child, your 
will shall be mine. Be calm, believing this, 
and tell me what it is that you desire." 

"To live here with my mother for the 
present, Wilfred — for at least two years." 

"Two years! — two springs, two summers, 
two autumns, two winters. Well, they will 
pass — but why should we not pass them to- 
gether? — why should we shorten our hap- 
piness by two years ? " 

Wilfred spoke this calmly, but holding her 
close, as if he never meant to part from 
her again. 

She could not say to him, " In two years 
time I may be richer — our little income 
may be doubled then and I shall work 
during those two years and earn something." 
She looked up into his face, her head rest- 
ing still against his breast, and said : — 

"It will not shorten our happiness ! 
Those two years will be happy years — such 



BOND AND FREE. 259 

happy years ! It must be poor, weak love, 
that cannot make the absent present. Let 
me have my own way; leave me here two 
years with my mother. Do not make me 
want to fight against your will : I do not 
want to strive — I want to rest. Let me 
have my way in this; for, indeed, I feel 
that my way is right." 

Her face, transfigured by love and joy, 
shone up into his with radiant light — shone 
with something of angelic light — steadfast 
in meekness. 

" Oh ! my darling ! do with me as you 
will ! " he said in a voice of inexpressible 
tenderness, which seemed to melt her heart 
and will, as sun or fire melt wax : he 
felt her tremble in his arms. 

" It is well for me that I can put my 
trust in your goodness, your generous for- 
bearance," she said. " I feel that I can put 
no trust in my own strength now or hence- 

s2 



260 BOND AND FREE. 

forward. Yet, let it be as I say in this — 
afterwards your words shall be mine — I 
will then say — ' Do with me as you will.' " 

"It shall be as you wish." 

" Oh, why was I not true with you at 
once? Forgive me for having given you 
pain. I, too, have suffered ! " 

" I know it, my poor child ! " 

After a pause, she asked — " But, Wil- 
fred, how could you believe that I did not 
love you? I cannot understand." 

"That you should love me is what I 
cannot understand, my darling — my Schiitz- 
engel ! " 

"Must you still go to-day, Wilfred — -just 
as -we have found each other?" 

" Yes ; because I wrote to my mother 
that I certainly would come to-day. You 
will write to me often ? — and I may write 
to you?" 

The manner of her assent gave him a 



BOND AND FREE. 261 

happy glimpse into the wealth and power 
of that kingdom of her love over which she 
elected him to reign. 

It was soon time for them to part. 

Facing the full light, they each looked 
with happy awe into the face of the other; 
each recognized the work of love in the 
other's altered, glorified countenance. 

Wilfred paled suddenly. 

" Two years, Felicia ! What if God's 
angel, Death, should gather thee or me 
before two years ? " 

" God's angel, Death, can only do God's 
bidding, dearest ; can only do what is — in 
all ways — best. Even then we should have 
known great happiness on earth : even then 
we should not be divided. I do not feel 
as if anything — not even death — could now 
deprive me of you ! " 

" God grant we — neither of us — may be 



262 BOND AND FREE. 

so tried. Two years, Felicia, darling ! It 
is a long, long time ! " 

" It will pass quickly — and oh, so happily ! 
I feel that I live to-day for the first time 
for many days. How have I deserved to be 
so happy?" 



263 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

" in Ruh und Freude, 

Frei von Furcht, zu gross zum Neide, 
Lieb ich, ewig lieb' ich Sie." 

"Two years is a great while. She should 
remember how long you have loved her 
— that you are no longer young. She 
should not try you so." 

"I do not quite understand why she 
makes me wait so long ; but I have 
full faith in her, mother — she is right, no 
doubt." 

"You must not expect me to judge her 
quite as you do." 



264 BOND AND FREE. 

"Mother?" 

"I only mean that I am not her lover. 
She is a sweet, gentle creature. I will 
love her dearly, for your sake and for her 
own ; only you must not expect me to 
think her quite perfection, in all things, 
as you do." 

" Not so, dearest mother — she is too per- 
fect a woman to be perfection. She has 
faults, doubtless; but faults for which a 
man must only love her the more." 

Gentle as was the check to the outpour- 
ing of his rapture which Wilfred received 
in this first evening talk after his return, 
it was a check, and served him as a warn- 
ing: he forebore afterwards to speak much 
or otherwise than quietly of Felicia. His 
mother felt that he had placed his love 
under restraint and knew why he had done 
so : she studied to undo what she had done. 
As time went on she felt assured that she 



BOND AND FREE. 265 

was no less to her son than formerly : 
her place in his heart was a peculiar one 
— no love of wife or child could, she felt, 
ever displace the love he bore her. By- 
degrees her joy in her son's joy absorbed 
all selfish elements that had hindered her 
heart from knowing unmixed joy — by de- 
grees her love for Felicia became a love 
such as angels might look upon. 

Lady Tregarther and her husband called 
on Mrs. Verbane a few weeks after Wil- 
fred's return, to congratulate her on her 
son's engagement. 

Mr. Tregarther spoke of Wilfred in a 
way which showed him to entertain posi- 
tive, almost fatherly, affection for his secre- 
tary, and which brought tears to the eyes 
of Wilfred's mother. 

" I envy you, madam," he concluded — 
" I envy you the possession of such a 
son, and the prospect of having such a 



266 BOND AND FREE. 

daughter ! Ah ! if I had such a son ! If 
my dear boy had lived ! " His own eyes 
twinkled with moisture as he spoke. 

Lady Tregarther sat by, enduring much 
uneasiness ; she feared that her husband 
would lower his own dignity in Mrs. Ver- 
bane's eyes by so exalting the character 
and importance of his secretary. She need 
not have feared that any words of Mr. 
Tregarther's could have raised Wilfred in 
the estimation of his mother higher than 
the constant companionship of more than 
five years had already set him. 

"You know somewhat how I feel towards 
your son now, madam," Mr. Tregarther 
said, as he took his leave ; " and I throw 
myself on your candour — what can I do 
for him ? I have always felt that the re- 
muneration he has accepted from me has 
been inadequate. Now I must and will do 
something for him. I am not quixotic and 



BOND AND FREE. 267 

disinterested/' he said, with a glance at his 
lady, whom he wished away; "I want to 
fix him here, in my neighbourhood. Shall 
I build him a house? This will not be 
large enough for him when he brings home 
his wife and her mother. Turn the matter 
over in your mind, and let me know if 
this is the best thing I can do for him." 

Lady Tregarther looked to see Mrs. 
Yerbane quite overcome by the splendour 
of her husband's offer ; but Mrs. Verbane 
showed no great emotion — she was gra- 
tified, and she said so in a manner at 
once meek and dignified. She promised to 
ascertain her son's wishes, and mentioned 
her own idea, which was, that an enlarge- 
ment of Seafern Cottage would be all that 
Wilfred would desire. 

Not long afterwards the .architect who 
had built the Tyngelt Institute came to in- 
spect the Cottage, and to plan extensive 



268 BOND AND FREE. 

enlargements and alterations. The conse- 
quence was, that the house was given up 
to workpeople for six months, during which 
time Wilfred and his mother occupied rooms 
at Tyngelt Place. The alterations were 
commenced in spring and finished by the 
autumn. The house, and a considerable 
piece of ground round it, were then pre- 
sented to Wilfred — a free gift from his 
landlord and employer. 

Young Hind, Wilfred's protege, about this 
time married a daughter of one of the most 
respectable men of the place. On the death 
of his father — Mr. Tregarther's bailiff — he 
was able to do more than fill that father's 
situation, by virtue of his superior educa- 
tion and intelligence, and of his equal 
honesty and general trust-worthiness. He 
never forgot what he owed Wilfred, and 
was able to serve him and lighten his 
labours in many ways — both as regarded 



BOND AND FREE. 269 

Mr. Tregarther's business and affairs, and 
the good work carried on at the Institute. 

The first anniversary of the day when 
Felicia's love had been confessed to Wil- 
fred came round. During all the year all 
his life had been hers — -somewhat in the 
same sense as all men's lives should be 
God's ; but of every day some portion was 
more peculiarly her own; each day had a 
rest-time, a holy time spent in reading 
and in answering her letters. 

On the morning of this anniversary he 
sat in his new study at Seafern Cottage, 
and wrote to her: — 

" You were right, my own love ; half 
the time of waiting you imposed has 
passed — passed like a happy dream — not 
an idle dream : the year has been one 
of preparation — of preparation for my great 
happiness — the looking forward to which, 
and learning to believe in which, has been 



270 BOND AND FREE. 

happiness enough. But, the next year, 
Felicia ! Your home here is almost ready 
for you — my new book is almost finished 
— it will be hard to be patient through 
another year. 

" Your mother hints to mine that you 
work too hard — give too many lessons in 
a day, and take too little rest. If so, 
this is wrong, my child. I did not think 
that you had been too proud to owe all 
to one who loves you as I do. Remem- 
ber you are mine — that you have no 
right to hurt yourself — that, in doing so, 
you are hurting me. 

" One whole year more- — it can hardly 
be — you could hardly wish it to be if 
you knew the strength and depth of my 
longing to touch your hand and hear your 
voice — if you had tried to take any mea- 
sure of my love. 

" See, dearest — I must write no more. 



BOND AND FREE. 271 

I was patient and quiet when I 'began; 
now my heart is beating wildly for you, 
and I grow almost angry with you for 
your steadfastness." 

In one of Felicia's letters, she said : 

"I am happy —so happy, that I doubt 
if I can be happier. From so many little 
things I gain pleasure so intense that my 
life is rich indeed. 

"Indeed, Wilfred, I do remember always 
that I am yours. I have the most careful 
care of myself, because I am yours ; but 
nothing seems able to hurt me, or weary 
me — I have such rest in thinking that I 
am yours. 

" I do not long for you, in the way you 
say you long for me. I can always call 
you to me when I will. Once or twice I 
have been startled, for I have pictured you 
so vividly that I believed I saw you with 
my bodily eyes. 



272 BOND AND FREE. 

" Last evening I was just a little tired, 
so I stayed at home when mamma went to 
spend the evening with an old friend of 
hers who is come to live at Silverthorpe. 
I wrote to you and read your dear letters ; 
then I put myself on the sofa, meaning to 
read (something of yours, I will not tell 
you what) ; but I did not open the book 
directly — I let it lie on my heart, and I lay 
thinking of you till I fell asleep. 

" I woke feeling rather strange, and 
found that you were sitting by me. My 
candle was gone out, but there was enough 
fire-light in the room for me to see you 
by. I did not speak to you at once, but 
lay looking at you. I did not feel fright- 
ened or even surprised — but so quiet, rested 
and happy. I know I was awake. Pre- 
sently I spoke to you — you did not an- 
swer. I turned cold when — putting my hand 
towards you to touch you — I found that 



BOND AND FREE. 273 

you were not there, that there was nothing 
where I had seen you. Then I behaved 
like a disappointed, unreasonable child. I 
began to cry. I did not feel happy 
again till I got your sweet, dear letter this 
morning. 

" I often laugh to myself, when I won- 
der what some of my employers would 
think if they knew a few of the things 
which I know about the sedate and precise 
Miss Southern." 

"Another letter like the last," Wilfred 
wrote in answer, "And I must fly to you 
and claim you, at once. Of what stuff do 
you think that I am made? I do not be- 
lieve in your being strong, you fair, frail 
lily of my heart. 

"Sometimes it is with me as it was 
with you that night — sometimes you flit 
through the library at Tyngelt Place, as 
you did once — sometimes you sit by me 

VOL. III. T 



274 BOND AND FREE. 

in my study at home, as you never did, but 
as, please God, you will do ; but this is when 
my brain has been overworked, or my strength 
in some way overtasked." 

That winter was one of great distress in 
the north, and even the quiet town of 
Silverthorpe shared the general fate ; the 
following spring and summer were unset- 
tled and unhealthy — during the autumn the 
mortality was great. 

Mrs. Southern's letters to Mrs. Verbane 
at this time showed great uneasiness about 
Felicia, and were not always shown to 
Wilfred. 

" She seems to feel that her own great 
happiness gives others all sorts of claims 
upon her." Her mother wrote once — " Her 
life is more entirely for others than ever 
now : she has acted as sick-nurse in several 
instances. I cannot but fear that she will 
wear herself out. She says that she feels 



BOND AND FREE. 275 

that she cannot do enough, cannot spend 
herself for others utterly enough, to show 
her gratitude to God for her own happi- 
ness. The fever so prevalent here is not 
infectious ; I feel no alarm on that head — 
my fear is for the consequence of all this 
exertion, and of the painful excitement she 
has gone through." 

Mrs. Verbane thought it right to show 
Wilfred the letter in which this passage 
occurred : after reading it, he wrote a 
solemn and impassioned appeal to Felicia. 

Felicia's answer, beginning with an un- 
wonted outbreak of love and longing, con- 
tained a mild rebuke : — 

."That I am not my own, but yours, 
is my most urgent reason for doing as I 
have done," she said. " If I had acted 
otherwise, I should have dishonoured you. 
How could I refrain my hands from doing 
what little they could of the much that 

t2 



276 BOND AND FREE. 

was to do, when I remembered that they 
are your hands? Thank God! things mend 
round us daily, now — this early, bracing 
cold drives sickness away. Though I do 
not think I ever felt less in need of nursing 
and of rest, to please you, and to please 

mamma, I will rest now " There was 

a break in the letter — then, in a feeble 
hand, followed these words : — 

" I grew excited over this long letter, 
and, for almost the first time in my life, 
fainted. I tell you this that you may be 
sure that I am always and all true with you. 
It was nothing ; I am going to bed — to- 
morrow morning I shall be quite well, please 
God." 

Next morning a little note was written, 
which declared Felicia to be quite well 
again, only still " a little tired." 

After that note came silence — no more of 
those loving letters, but silence. A heavy 



BOND AND FREE. 277 

and early fall of snow obstructed the roads in 
many parts of England. For a day or two 
Wilfred suffered this to be an excuse for 
this silence : but soon the silence grew 
and stirred for him — with images of dread. 

"If Felicia were ill, her mother would 
write/' Mrs. Verbane said. " It cannot be 
that — some accident must have occurred to 
the mails." 

" It is a week since I heard. Mr. Tre- 
garther had letters by the north mail to- 
day. I can bear this suspense no longer. 
I must go to Silverthorpe." 

Mrs Verbane offered no opposition. Of 
this she was very glad, when, an hour 
after Wilfred had left her, a mounted 
messenger brought a telegraphic message 
from the neighbouring town : — 

"Come quickly. F. S. is ill." 



278 



CHAPTER XIX. 

"Fast this life of mine was dying — 
Blind already, and calm as death ; 
Snow-flakes on her bosom lying, 
Scarcely heaving with her breath." 

Snow-plains bounded by snow-covered hills 
surrounded Silverthorpe : the town was 
purely white, and deathly silent — purely 
white and deathly silent as a maiden's 
death- chamber, as the little room, looking 
towards the hills, in which Felicia lay. 

Day was closing in : fire-light was gain- 
ing over the sad twilight — it was only the 
ruddy fire-light that lent a life-like glow 



BOND AND FREE. 279 

to anything in that room. Felicia lay as 
she had long lain ; the face on the pillows 
was as white, as calm — almost as cold — 
as one of sculptured marble. Her mother 
sat by her, keeping a hopeless, breathless 
watch — her face almost as calm, in its des- 
pair, as the face upon which she gazed. 

The thick-lying snow muffled all sounds 
in the Minster Yard; for days no foot-fall 
had been heard to echo there. The phy- 
sician who sat in the little parlour waiting 
for the final change, the end, was this 
evening startled by a light tap against 
the glass, and by seeing a face pressed 
close against the uncurtained window. 
Startled for a moment only : then he rose, 
and noiselessly opened the hall-door, ad- 
mitting Wilfred, covered with snow-flakes. 

" Mr. Verbane ? Exactly. You have 
been long expected: I fear you come too 
late. There will hardly be any return of 



280 BOND AND FREE. 

consciousness now — nature is completely 
exhausted." 

"She still lives?" 

"And that is all. More utter prostra- 
tion of the system I have rarely seen. 
She suffers no pain : death will come 
insensibly. We looked for you yesterday, 
and the day before." 

" I have walked many miles. There 
was an accident on the line : I was 
stunned for a few hours — then communica- 
tion was cut off. I could not hire any 
conveyance." 

As he spoke he freed himself from his 
over-coat, and shook the snow from his 
hair ; then asked — 

" I can do no harm by seeing her ? " 

"None." 

Hopeless grief is passionless. The first 
shock of a great sorrow numbs the soul, 
unless it is met and resisted by incredulity 



BOND AND FREE. 281 

which will not abandon hope. There was 
a dead calm in Wilfred's heart — a sus- 
pension of feeling : thought and sensation 
were alike deadened. He mounted the 
stairs slowly ; with mechanical caution he 
opened the chamber door softly. 

He approached the bed on the opposite 
side to that on which the mother watched. 
As he did so, she lifted her eyes in weary 
recognition, murmured— " God pity you, 
and pardon you — you come too late ! " 
and then let them resume their unflinch- 
ing and nothing-hoping vigil. 

As Wilfred stood there in that white 
and silent chamber — as he looked down 
upon the white and silent face of his 
almost lost love, a change came over him 
— a revulsion of feeling. He rebelled 
against the mastery of awe-born despair 
which held him passive. A hot passion 
of desperate resistance surged up in him 
suddenly. 



282 BOND AND FREE. 

"I do not give her up — I will not ! 
Felicia, come back to me ! " he cried, 
and his voice sounded like a trumpet-call 
through the hushed house, as, bending 
over her, he repeated her name. Such 
subtle change as showed it was not a 
face of marble stole over the countenance 
of the dying girl. He saw it and hoped 
— her mother saw it and feared ; he 
threw himself down by Felicia, laid his 
face against hers upon the pillow, and 
cried : — 

" Felicia ! my Felicia, hear me ! — return 
to me, if only for a moment, return to 
me!" 

He took her in his arms now, held 
her breast to breast, pressed his burning 
lips again and again upon her cold 
mouth, and murmured over her words most 
passionately tender. 

Mrs. Southern was roused to horror as 
she saw this. 



BOND AND FREE. 283 

" Oh, Wilfred, Wilfred ! be calm/' she 
cried, " let my poor child die in peace ! " 

He paid no heed to her, but, after a 
little, raised his head, pointed to the 
face resting on his breast, and said — 

" Mother ! this is not death. God 
gives her back to me — she will live ! " 

Even as he spoke Felicia's dim eyes 
unclosed, a faint smile dawned upon her 
lips, and her breast heaved with a long, 
deep breath. 

The physician now approached the bed, 
laid a finger on the girl's pulse, pro- 
nounced that there was more vitality than 
he had expected, ordered stimulants to be 
administered freely and frequently, and 
spoke of hope. Promising to return 
before morning, he left the house. 

Hour after hour Wilfred held his so 
nearly lost love in his arms. 

It was long before she slept ; he 



284 BOND AND FREE. 

watched the mists of languor, of a weari- 
ness that had been unto death, roll 
slowly from before the soft dove-like eyes, 
and he gazed upon the ineffable sweet- 
ness of the peaceful mouth, till, when the 
eyes were clear again to look into his, 
and the lips at last had power to form 
his name — when he knew that God had 
indeed permitted him to win his bride 
back from the jaws of death — the strength 
of his joy and gratitude overmastering him, 
blinding him by a sudden rush of tears, 
he laid his head down beside her and 
wept. 

" So late ! * Felicia murmured, when 
she heard the midnight chimes. " You 
and my mother must rest now — I shall sleep 
well to-night." 

She moved her head from his shoulder 
to the pillow, smiled into his face, 
gently returned the pressure of his 



BOND AND FREE. 285 

hands, and sank into a warm, rosy sleep, 
with that smile still on her mouth. ■ 

Unbroken silence again reigned in the 
house ; but it was the silence of night and 
of natural rest. 



286 



CHAPTER. XX. 

"Owe will walk this world, 
Yoked in all exercise of noble end ; 
And so through those dark gates, across the wild 
That no man knows." 

M Beloved, let us love so well, 
Our work shall still be better for our love, 
And still our love be sweeter for our work ; 
And both commended, for the sake of each, 
By all true workers and true lovers born." 

"Never again to part!" On this Wil- 
fred insisted. 

" Meeting as we met, we must never again 
part. It is simply impossible," he said. 
" We neither of us care anything for idle 
ceremony or etiquette — nothing for the 



BOND AND FREE. 287 

gossiping comment of this place, which 
we shortly leave, nor of the place to 
which we go. We will not part again : 
when you are strong enough to go out — 
strong enough to travel — you shall fix the 
day for our wedding : after it we will all 
go home. Till then you must suffer me 
here — me and my mother." 

Felicia's recovery was not rapid. Mrs. 
Yerbane came to Silverthorpe that they 
might all spend Christmas together; but 
she stipulated that she should afterwards 
be allowed to return to Tyngelt alone, to 
make all things ready for the coming home 
of the bride. 

After the early and severe cold of the 
autumn, Christmas-day came like a day of 
spring. On this day Felicia was, for the 
first time since her illness, brought down 
to the little sitting-room. It had been 
made gay and sweet — a bouquet of violets 



288 BOND AND FREE. 

and Christmas roses was on the table, and 
sprigs of scarlet-berried holly brightened 
the walls. Here Felicia and Wilfred kept 
holy day together — the two mothers having 
gone to the morning service in the Min- 
ster. 

Felicia lay on the couch by the fire — 
Wilfred occupied a low seat by her. 

" You are thinking, love— of what ? " he 
asked, after a long silence. 

" Hardly thinking — I was more sunning 
myself in my own happiness : the thought 
that God let you give me back my life 
is such a very sweet thought — my life re- 
turned to me through you, to be shared 
with you, seems so dear and beautiful. 
Had you not come I should indeed have 
died that night. So now more than ever 
I feel that my life belongs to you; feel- 
ing this, I love it and value it as I never 
did before — is this wrong ? " 



BOND AND FREE. 289 

" Felicia, sometimes I could almost wish 
you a little different, a ■ little less humble, 
that it might be possible for you to un- 
derstand the nature of my love for you 
— the height and depth of my reverence 
for you. But, love, be ever as you are ; it 
is good for me that my spirit should lie 
at your feet — and it is your humility, more 
than any other grace or virtue of yours, 
that has drawn it there." 

A shadow of perplexity crossed Felicia's 
clear brow and eyes. 

" It is a great mystery," she said, thought- 
fully ; "it makes me very happy to be 
loved ; but what you have said of rever- 
ence puzzles, almost pains me. If I ven- 
ture to compare myself with you, I can 
find nothing that you should reverence — I 
feel myself so ignorant, so shallow — I want 
your love, and nothing but your love : when 
you speak of reverence, I tremble lest it 

VOL. III. u 



290 BOND AND FREE. 

should prove that you have loved some 
fancied Felicia, and not the real one. Do 
not look pained, dearest — I feel that every 
hour I spend with you makes me more 
worthy of you. Every day will, please 
God, lift me nearer to you ; living with you 
always, I shall grow more and more like 
what you now believe me to be — at least, 
I shall pray God that it may be so." 

" Your memory for evil fails you, 
Felicia ; you forget some parts of my life. 
I will not speak of them now — we will 
quarrel when you are stronger." He noted 
a deepening flush on Felicia's cheeks, and 
over-much light in her eyes. " One thing 
I do, thank God, heartily believe — it is, 
that Felicia's husband must necessarily be 
a good, true man — that nothing fosters true 
manliness so much as the love and contem- 
plation of such true womanliness as yours. 
You, dear child, must be content to have 
me owe much to you. If you choose, 



BOND AND FREE. 291 

you shall believe that I am very- 
strong of mind, an intellectual giant, 
able to master things that transcend 
your apprehension ; but then you must let 
me believe in the perfection of your child- 
like goodness and God-given wisdom, and 
find my best rest on this belief. If you 
can, you shall believe that I am, even in 
a high sense, a poet ; but then you must 
be patient with my belief that your life 
is poetry ! " 

She had listened intently while he spoke ; 
now, letting her head sink upon his breast, 
and clasping his hand in both hers, she 
said, a little weariedly, but brightening as 
she proceeded — 

"Let everything be as you will — what 
I am, and what you are, God only really 
knows. I am content to know that I love 
you l over and over, and through and through,' 
as I used to say to mamma — to know that 
I believe in the goodness and purity of your 



292 BOND AND FREE. 

every thought, and the nobleness of your 
whole nature. Oh, Wilfred, when I was at 
Tyngelt I heard so much, so many different 
things from so many different people, about 
you! When I saw you that night, and 
heard you speak for the miners, and then 
heard them speak of you, I knew certainly 
that though you might not always have 
been all that was manly and noble, you 
were then all noble. The joy this certain 
knowledge gave me was unspeakably great. 
Before, when we met the Tregarthers in 
London, and heard so much from them about 
a Mr. Verbane, I used sometimes to lie 
awake at night, feeling very unhappy, vaguely 
jealous of this stranger's noble usefulness, 
and anxious — oh, so anxious about you ! To 
find you in this Mr. Verbane, and to feel 
again in your presence as I used to feel 
in former times — like a little child being 
taught by a dear master what it is only just 
able to learn — would have made me more 



BOND AND FREE. 293 

happy than I could have borne to be then, 
if you had not seemed so cold and distant, 
if I had not felt as if I stood such a very 
long way off you ." 

" As I felt that you did and should, my 
child ; f or I constantly remembered the un- 
worthiness of my past conduct — its cowardice 
and treachery, and felt myself unfit to stand 
in your presence, my child — my sweet, dear 
loving, and trusting child. Ah, Felicia ! " 
he added, "I think a man can only fully 
understand our Saviour's reverence for chil- 
dren — his injunction to his followers to be 
as little children — when he loves a child- 
hearted woman with all the powers of all 
his nature ! But, love, you have talked too 
much, I think — rest now, or your mother 
will scold me, seeing these over-bright eyes." 

"Life is all rest for me," she said — " no- 
thing but rest for me. Oh, why should I 
be allowed to know such great, such perfect 
happiness ? " 



294 BOND AND FREE. 

When, by-and-by, they saw the two mo- 
thers coming homeward across the Minster 
Yard, Felicia said — 

"Don't you think that some day we may 
forget which is which of the two mothers — 
which was once only yours, which was 
once only mine — loving them both so dearly 
— so just alike ? " 

The four who kept this Christmas-day 
together believe that they shall keep all 
future Christmas-days together : even when 
two only are left on earth, or it may be when 
only one is left. 

Early in the new year Wilfred took his 
wife and her mother home to his mother 
at Seafern Cottage. 

Of this husband and wife it may be said, 
that 

" these twain, upon the skirts of Time, 

Sit side by side, full-suinm'd in all their powers; 
Dispensing harvest, sowing the To-be, 
Self-reverent each, and reverencing each ; 
Distinct in individualities, 
But like each other, ev'n as those who love." 



BOND AND FREE. 295 

From the schools and institutes of Tyn- 
gelt, and from those springing up in the 
neighbourhood, may come working men 
whose work will tell largely upon the 
world; men, whose strength for good will 
lie as much in the tenderness of their hearts 
and of their consciences, as in the keenness 
of their intellects or their might of moral 
muscle. 

Wilfred's Felicia is the Felicia of many 
homes. A wife — rejoicing in a justified faith 
in the high possibilities of humanity, and 
with a heart at rest, because of the perfect- 
ness of its love and its conviction of the 
perfect worthiness of the one loved — may 
often lead two lives and work two works 
in the world — may do an angel's work and 
a woman's, working good both consciously 
and unconsciously. Without pain, save such 
pain of pity as angels feel — without the 
slightest sullying of her white robe of child- 
like faith and love — she may walk this earth 



296 BOND AND FREE. 

gloriously free, and cause the light and the 
breath of heaven to penetrate its darkest 
and foulest places. 

Women whose hearts have found no rest 
either on God or man, throwing themselves, 
whether with arrogant or generous temerity, 
into the first work so-called " good " pre- 
sented to them, may lower and pollute their 
natures by familiar contact with things im- 
pure, and so cease to have any power of 
good over those for whom they have blindly 
sacrificed themselves ; but for Felicia — the 
meekness of whose faith in God, and the 
quietness of whose love for her husband, 
are the pledges of the stability and perfect- 
ness of this faith and this love — there exists 
no such danger. 

THE END. 



R. BORN, PRINTER, GTX>UCESTER STREET, REGENT'S PARK. 



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[JOE OTHEK VOLUMES SEE NEXT PAGE.] 



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